April 22, 2016
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Bagley College of Engineering’s Jamel Alexander has been riding the fast track to success during his time at MSU.
Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Alexander’s early dreams were to become a physicist. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana’s Xavier University and a master’s degree in applied physics from the University of New Orleans, Alexander soon realized that wasn’t the path for him.
Now at MSU pursuing a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering, Alexander has become a standout student within the BCoE by excelling in academia, campus involvement and leadership positions.
As a founding member of MSU’s Mechanical Engineering Minority Organization (MEMO), Alexander helps provide a support network for minority students pursing a degree in the mechanical engineering discipline.
MEMO was established by Alexander, working alongside other undergraduate and graduate minority students, to recruit high-achieving minority students into the department, increase the graduation rates of minority students and assist in the development of diverse, innovative, ethical and socially well rounded engineers who excel academically and professionally. Through MEMO, minority students have the opportunity to recruit, retain and reconnect with diverse engineers and students of similar backgrounds.
“MEMO is a really helpful organization that allows students to seek mentorship from upper level students, as well as graduate students and faculty, to aid in their registration throughout the mechanical engineering program,” said Alexander.
Alexander also spends his free time tutoring and mentoring Bagley undergrad and graduate students, as well as participating in the Graduate Student Association and local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.
For his achievement, Alexander has recently been recognized on both a national and university-wide level.
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States, named Alexander as the Mike Shin Member of the Year. Comprised of 394 active chapters and over 12,000 students, the NSBE’s Mike Shin Member of the Year is the highest honor an NSBE member at the collegiate or graduate level can receive.
“This award is more of a momentum award for me,” Alexander stated. “I’m aiming to go into teaching, so getting an award like this provides me with the motivation and foundation to set up new programs and help other minority students enter college through engineering and science programs.”
Alexander was recognized as the Mike Shin Member of the Year Award honoree at NSBE’s annual conference in Boston, Massachusetts in March.
In addition, Alexander was recently awarded the MSU Diversity Award and Spirit of State Award, both of which honor those who foster the spirit of diversity among peers and participate in extracurricular activities, while also providing both service to the university and leadership in the community.
As the MSU Diversity Student Award winner, Alexander was one of many faculty, staff and students to be recognized in March. He will also receive a 2016 Spirit of State Award in April.
Alexander noted these awards, along with his time at Bagley, have helped him prepare for the future.
“Bagley has taught me to be more active in outreach. I believe in helping other students and encouraging those in the local community to get interested in engineering and STEM fields,” Alexander said. “Bagley has also shown me how to motivate and teach others how to make it through college, because a lot students don’t understand what it takes to succeed in this environment.”
Vemitra White, director of K-12 educational outreach and support programs at Bagley, noted how proud she is of Alexander and his accomplishments.
“Jamel is one of the most ebullient, altruistic and sincere people I know,” White said. “He always goes far beyond to help others excel in both an academic and social perspective.”
As a long-time friend, Alexander has aided White as a guest speaker for Engineering Day and has volunteered for several different programs such as Summer Bridge, Increasing Minority Access to Graduate Education (IMAGE), BEST Robotics and SeaPerch.
For other diversity students, Alexander offers a simple piece of advice – “learn how to learn.”
“That’s one of my favorite phrases. I am continually learning how to learn, and that’s something that has taken me very far in my college career,” Alexander stated.
Alexander said he believes that it doesn’t matter if you are studying engineering, politics, math or sociology, as long as you can learn how to learn, you will always be successful.
For more information on the BCoE, visit bagley.msstate.edu.
By: Logan Treadaway