Senior Allison Norman wins the American Chemical Society’s Student Exchange Award, Alcorn campus chapter receives charter during NOBCChE National Conference in St. Louis

Four seniors from Alcorn State University’s Department of Chemistry had an exceptional showing at a recent conference geared toward finding diverse and talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students.

Jamia Coleman, Allison Norman, KaTerria Young, and Brianna Watkins, all biochemistry majors, attended the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) National Conference Nov. 18-21 in St. Louis, Missouri. The students were honored as the university received its official charter for the Alcorn NOBCChE Chapter. Also, Norman became the undergraduate recipient of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Exchange Award.

Norman, a Meridian, Mississippi native, was especially honored to be recognized by the hundreds of seasoned STEM professionals attending the conference.

“I was extremely honored to receive the award,” said Norman. “Being awarded was amazing. I was in awe that professional chemists recognized my research.”

Securing the award has given Norman a chance to attend either of the ACS Regional or National meetings to present her research on breast cancer in the future. Norman looks forward to taking advantage of another opportunity to move closer to her goals.

“The award will allow me to interact with thousands of fellow chemists from around the world to share ideas, connect, and explore cutting-edge science. I will receive personal and professional advice from ACS consultants and attend workshops to help expand my network.”

The newly chartered organization will assist aspiring STEM students at Alcorn in gathering knowledge about the field and becoming STEM professionals.  Coleman, the vice president of the Alcorn Chapter, believes that the organization will introduce Alcornites to a bevy of opportunities to gain more knowledge, showcase their talents, and explore careers.

“The main goal in chartering this chapter is to aid in increasing the number of STEM majors that enter professional school as chemists and assist students with their progress,” said Coleman. “I feel that this chapter is a great way for our students to network with individuals outside of the Alcorn community while also gaining insight into internships, careers, and other opportunities. I’m happy to be able to bring these STEM opportunities to Alcorn.”

With Alcorn continuing its mission to progress into the future, having a STEM-focused organization on campus is perfect for recognizing the university’s bright young minds and introducing them to other STEM programs.  Watkins appreciates the chapter coming to an HBCU to help enforce diversity in STEM.

“African-Americans are underrepresented in STEM-related careers in the country, and it’s time for a change,” said Watkins. “Organizations such as NOBCChE are filled with networking opportunities for jobs, schools, internships, and research. Students at Alcorn will get exposure to a broader scope of the STEM field, giving them hope of becoming the successful STEM professionals they’ve always hoped to be.”

The students thank Alcorn for providing them with such an enriching experience.  Young plans to share her findings from the conference with her chemistry professors and peers to better the department’s approach to research.

“There were many different research studies that I was exposed to at the conference,” said Young. “The organization is for the professional advancement of minorities, and they exemplify diversity for networking and the advancement of chemistry. I’m anxious to share this knowledge with our chemistry department to broaden our options in research. I am thankful that my university granted us this opportunity.”