Ellis Ingram doesn’t look for applause when he reaches out to help someone. But last week in Washington, D.C., he couldn’t dodge the attention.
Ingram, an associate professor in the department of pathology and anatomical sciences, received the Presidential Award of Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering for his efforts to mentor young people.
Ingram was nominated for the award by Douglas Anthony, chairman of the pathology and anatomical sciences department.
Recipients are selected based on two major criteria set by the National Science Board: the intellectual merit of mentoring activities and their broader impact.
Ingram learned he was a nominee for the award, which comes with a $10,000 grant, more than a month ago. But it wasn’t until the award’s ceremony on May 6 that he found out he had actually won. He attended the ceremony with his wife, Pam, who is an active partner in Ingram’s many endeavors.
“Mentoring is just part of our lives,” Ingram said. “We have a passion for reaching out to young people and showing them that there is a future of hope.”
Ingram said he plans to use the grant to continue the outreach programs he has already started in Columbia. Granny’s House was founded by the Ingrams to reach children who live in lower income neighborhoods. Ten years ago, Ingram also created Caleb: The Science Club to help nurture and encourage academic excellence in students from fifth grade and up.
Ingram is also the organizer for the Excellence in Learning Program, which brings students and teachers from St. Louis to Columbia to spend a day at the medical school. The students are sometimes able to shadow a doctor as part of their visit.
Ingram also serves as the faculty advisor for groups of pre-medical and medical students. Ingram, through the Excellence in Learning Conference. gives high school teachers and administrators the tools to mentor students and prepare them for college.
“What struck me was that he was working with students at all these different ages,” Anthony said.
Tyrone Flowers is a beneficiary of Ingram’s generosity. Ingram mentored Flowers academically, professionally and spiritually while Flowers was in law school at MU. Flowers described Ingram as a father figure and, along with Pam Ingram, represents a model for Flowers’ own family.
“He was very supportive in allowing me, as a young person, to grow and flourish in experiencing different things, but he was also there to guide me,” Flowers said. “Our relationship has continued and is as strong now as it was at the beginning.”
Ingram has always encouraged others to take the opportunity to mentor a young person. Flowers, for instance, is now mentoring young people and has launched Higher M-Pact, a nonprofit organization in Kansas City that reaches out to high-risk urban youth.
“I sincerely believe if everyone makes an effort to reach out to a young person, it will make a big difference in the community,” Ingram said.