Cargill COO Brian Sikes visits Alcorn State University

Alcorn State University’s partnership with agriculture giant Cargill grew stronger this week as one of the company’s executives visited campus to see all the University has to offer.

Cargill Chief Operating Officer Brian Sikes visited and took a tour of the University Tuesday, Oct. 11, as part of the thrive Program. The visit was an opportunity for Sikes, a thrive executive champion for Alcorn, to discover what’s happening at the University and discuss future ventures and research partnerships that would propel Alcorn and its students into the future.

Sikes drives strategic disruption and delivers products for today’s customers and the next generation of global consumers. Sikes began his career with Cargill in 1991 and joined the executive team in 2019. Recently, he led Cargill’s global Protein and Salt businesses across 17 countries.

“We value our relationship with Alcorn,” said Sikes. “I’m excited to be a part of this venture because it is important, and we have much good work to do in the future. We have a few Alcorn grads working with us, and we hope to increase the number of Alcornites at Cargill in the future.”

Alcorn President Dr. Felecia M. Nave expressed the importance of the partnership paving the way for Alcorn students to flourish in the corporate world.

“We feel the authenticity of the partnership,” said Nave. “This is about more than placing students in companies; it’s also about helping them build careers and making sure they start in a company that allows them to understand the culture and navigate the corporate space. As we put together the Program, we had goals supporting a mutually beneficial relationship. This partnership is about us working together to improve opportunities for our students.”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Ontario Wooden, spoke about how the University appreciates Cargill’s commitment to providing students with opportunities.

“We labored many days and nights working on this Cargill partnership,” said Wooden. “We are grateful for the investment not only in the agriculture space but also in students across Alcorn.”

Alcorn’s Director for the Cargill Thrive Program, Jabreel Walker, talked about the students’ enthusiasm to engage with the Program.

“Students are ready to learn, engage, and explore,” said Walker. “We want to ensure that our students have access and the resources to take advantage of every opportunity. We also hope to increase Cargill’s presence on campus by hosting more visits and advertising the agency around campus so students can know who Cargill is and what they offer.”

Former thrive Program member and current Cargill employee Ernest Dixon III credits the Program and Cargill for his recent success.

“With the experience and exposure that Cargill has given me from my first internship in Louisiana to my current job in Minnesota, it has been nothing short of a blessing,” said Dixon. “Without those opportunities through the Thrive Program, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”