The New Black
What does it mean to be black in America?
By Naveen Mahadevan
Published Feb. 24, 2014
Kristofferson Culmer, a Mizzou doctoral student in computer science, was born and raised in the Bahamas. The third of eight children, he was named after the actor and musician Kris Kristofferson. Culmer’s mother, a teacher and businesswoman, died shortly after Culmer finished high school. Unable to afford further education, Culmer worked to support his family until a friend who’d graduated from college in the United States helped him train in track and earn a scholarship to attend Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo. Culmer double-majored in computer science and business, ran track and cross-country, and served as vice president of his fraternity and president of student government. He then earned a master’s degree at Mizzou. Culmer was the first Tiger to serve three years as president of the MU Graduate Professional Council (GPC) and now serves as the director of outreach for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS). “I’m concerned about the well-being of other students,” Culmer says. “If I feel strongly about something, I’m going to look for ways to fix it, remedy it, to make it better.” Culmer admires Barack Obama, former Bahamas president Sir Lynden Pindling and his parents, Kendal and Ruthmae Culmer. “I learned the importance of taking care of family, standing up for your principles, and fighting for what you believe in from him,” Culmer says of his father. “I get my passion for education and self-improvement from my mother.”