Warren H. Whatley, associate dean for graduate recruitment and support, congratulated the fellows on "achieving this milestone in your lives.
"This distinction is a testament to the power of your intellect, dedication, perseverance and inner strength," he said.
Rackham's Merit Fellowship program offers support to traditionally underrepresented minority students pursuing a graduate degree. Of the original 106 who achieved candidacy, eight had already defended their dissertations and now hold doctoral degrees.
Those honored represent 33 fields of study as diverse as the students' ethnic backgrounds---from anthropology and sociology to computer science and medicinal chemistry.
"To come here to Michigan was, I would imagine, a daunting challenge for you as new students. You come to us naive, sometimes, young adults often awed by the challenge put before you," Whatley said.
"In achieving candidacy, you have reached a milestone, but you have not yet rushed off, and that is what we are here to celebrate today. I am glad to take this opportunity to let you know how truly proud we are of what you have accomplished."