Dr. Jermiah Billa honored by IHL during annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards

An Alcorn State University faculty member receives praise for encouraging diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) celebrated Dr. Jermiah Billa by honoring him during their annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards during a virtual meeting Thursday, Feb. 18. IHL recognizes campus and community leaders for their efforts in advancing diversity and encouraging understanding and respect. Billa serves as the chairperson and assistant professor for Alcorn’s Department of Advanced Technologies.

Being recognized wouldn’t be possible had it not been for Billa’s peers acknowledging his commitment to leading the Department into the future. He appreciates the kind words and recommendations from his colleagues.

“I am a bit surprised and extremely excited,” said Billa. “I want to take this opportunity to thank the Alcorn State University personnel who nominated me whole-heartedly. Also, I want to thank both President Felecia M. Nave and Provost Dr. Ontario Wooden for selecting and recommending me for this special and distinguished award.”

Equipping diverse scholars to become exceptional STEM professionals is Billa’s goal. He talks about how Alcorn enables him and the Department to empower minority students to excel in STEM.

“I work in health physics, a unique STEM field with less than 3 percent African Americans and a limited number of female students. Alcorn provides many minority students to local nuclear industry Entergy and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the Department of Advanced Technologies, we empower and encourage students by providing scholarships, outreach activities, and mentorships. I encourage students to think practically and gain hands-on experiences before graduation, secure internships or fellowships, and network with peers and professionals.”

The students in the department make tremendous strides toward reaching their goals thanks to Billa and the Department’s efforts to prepare them for corporate-level success. Billa commends the students for their commitment to achievement.

“Our students are very committed to learning and being successful. We encourage students to double-major and take additional elective classes related to STEM fields. When our departmental students graduate, they finish with strong proficiencies in areas related to their academic degrees. As a result, that has helped our students to secure jobs.”

Alcorn President Felecia M. Nave applauds Billa for the work he has done in the Department.

“Dr. Billa and the Department of Advanced Technologies have gone above and beyond to ensure that our STEM students have the proper resources to succeed and break barriers in their industry,” said Nave. “There are plenty of Alcornites who have successfully broken the glass ceiling in the STEM field and are doing well in their professions. I am confident that Dr. Billa and his team are putting students on the path to success.”