School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences celebrates inaugural STEM Day

The School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences hosted its inaugural High School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Day  Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Extension and Research Complex on the Lorman campus. Dr. Cassandra Vaughn, assistant professor of animal science, served as the moderator. 

Students from Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Warren, and Wilkinson counties came out to take part in the day’s festivities. 

Opening remarks were given by Dr. John Igwebuike, interim provost & executive vice president for Academic Affairs. After thanking everyone for their attendance, he incited students to “learn as much as possible, ask great questions, and reach as high as you can.” 

The School collaborated with companies like Entergy and Nissan to bring students an inspiring experience that they would never forget. 

A lively panel discussion gave students an opportunity to ask questions and hear from Alcorn alumni about their paths to success. 

Allen Burks, senior project manager for Entergy, expressed to students how STEM is a great way to go in terms of finding a life-long career. “It has done very well for me, and I know it will do the same for you,” he said. 

Jadtrl Heard, radiation protection technician for Entergy, talked to students about her under- and post-graduate careers as well as the importance of having internships.

Anthony Williams, former athlete and parts quality engineer for Nissan, encouraged students always to have a backup plan. “It can be rough and tough being a college athlete. I had every intention of going to the NFL,” he shared. “Don’t let your surroundings distract you from what’s important, and that’s your education.”

Mario Robinson, process engineer for Nissan, shared with students and attendees the struggles he faced while trying to find his way in the world, including having to leave school, change his major, and work a job that he wasn’t happy with. He encouraged students to “never give up on what you want to do” and to always keep an open mind. 

Students asked questions about how to get started in the field and starting salaries. They also were interested in learning more about studying abroad. 

After lunch, buses traveled to the Department of Advanced Technologies where students got to hear from current undergraduate students about the many opportunities available in the areas of electrical engineering, robotics and animation, homeland security, research and training, among others. They got a chance to fly a drone, wave an electromagnetic wand, operate a robot, and much more.

When asked about her experience, Pam Roach, a volunteer for Entergy, stated, “I am impressed. I enjoyed the panel discussion, and then to see the different technology areas is fascinating. I’m excited that the kids got a chance to get some hands-on experience.” 

Adrianna Carter, a freshman from Vicksburg High School, cites interacting with the robots as her favorite part of the day. “Today was a good day,” she said. “I enjoyed playing with the robots, and I thought it was really fun. I hope we can come back and do this all again next year.”

Before returning to their respective schools, students were gifted with special goodies and souvenirs.

Dr. Edmund Buckner, dean, and director of Land-Grant Programs, School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, provided closing remarks. “One of the good things about coming to Alcorn today is that you had a chance to learn about some interesting and lucrative careers that you probably didn’t know about before.” He encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them and to obtain additional training after high school.

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