Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

February 2011

Recent LU Alumnus Receives Top Honors for Diabetes Presentation


ECU Saferoom
Langston University alumnus Brittanie Atkinson won top honors for her presentation on diabetes at the seventh Harold Hamm Diabetes Retreat at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

As incoming freshmen, students can easily be overwhelmed by the new sense of responsibility and decisions they must make that can affect the rest of their lives. For Brittanie Atkinson, the decision to participate in the Langston Integrated Network College (LINC) program made all the difference in the world and was the turning point that led to her most recent achievement.

Atkinson, who graduated from Langston with a degree in chemistry, recently won first place for her presentation on Type II Diabetes at the seventh Harold Hamm Diabetes Retreat at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Although unexpected, Atkinson said the award was the result of hard work and preparation that began early in her academic career at Langston and carried on to her time now as a second-year graduate student at the OU Health Sciences Center.

As a first-year student at Langston University via Wichita, Kan., Atkinson endured some of the same financial struggles faced by many freshmen pursuing their academic dreams. Having already shown a strong interest in going to medical school, Atkinson signed up to be a part of the LINC program to help pay for her expenses such as tuition and books. That decision turned out to be a life-changing one for her.

“I only got interested in research because I was in the LINC program,” Atkinson said. “That was the furthest thing from my mind when I came to Langston. But I wasn’t going to school on a scholarship and this provided me with a way to stay in school.”

The LINC program is a coordinated, linked network of comprehensive programs and processes designed to have broad, positive impact on the quantity and quality of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professionals that Langston University provides over the next five years and beyond. LINC offers a unique and extraordinary opportunity for undergraduate minority students to prepare for success within the STEM fields.

Under the tutelage of Dr. John K. Coleman, Atkinson said she was inspired to achieve greater than she had anticipated when she first began college. She said his inquisitiveness when students were explaining projects led to her ability to better prepare for presentations.

Those question and answer sessions at LU proved to be the difference for Atkinson when she won the first-place award for her presentation on Type II Diabetes. Atkinson said her research focused on discrediting the belief that obesity was what caused diabetes. The presentation showed evidence that it was a stagnant lifestyle that was more likely to put people at risk for diabetes rather than just obesity.

Atkinson said she only participated in the presentation as a requirement from her mentor at OUHSC, Dr. Ann Olson. Atkinson was one of nine chosen out of 46 who submitted an abstract to make a presentation and she turned out to be the top presenter, which exceeded not only her expectations but those of her mentor.

Not that Atkinson felt as if she didn’t belong, but she said it has taken some adjustment to reach this point. A 3.9-grade point average student at LU, Atkinson said it took some time to grasp the higher level of academics.

“I wasn’t feeling cut out to make it at that level at first but I know I have been doing much better,” Atkinson said. “Winning first place makes me feel like I’m going somewhere and that there is a reason for the hard work and long hours of studying.”

Atkinson has most definitely proven that she has what it takes to be a top student in her field. The future has limitless opportunities for Atkinson, and what happens next is up to her.

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