Jackson native earns alumni-funded scholarship for engineering minorities

November 7, 2013

solSTARKVILLE, Miss.— A Bagley College of Engineering student has earned a scholarship funded by two Mississippi State University alumni.

Jackson-native DeAnna Brown, a sophomore in aerospace engineering received the SOL Engineering Services LLC Scholarship. SOL owners and BCoE industrial engineering alumni Willie O’Neal Jr. and Derek Starling Sr. established the scholarship in 2008 to promote African-American advancement and success in engineering.

The scholarship is awarded to students in good standing who have participated in the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation or the Summer Bridges Program. Recipients must be from the Lowndes County area, preferably graduates of West Lowndes High School or the Canton Public School District in Madison County.

A native of Crawford, Miss., O’Neal said he and Starling established the scholarship to give back to the communities that gave to them. Starling grew up in Canton.

“We wanted a more positive impact on the communities where we grew up that poured out life-learning lessons into us during our early years of development,” O’Neal said. “Those communities were very instrumental in terms of where we are today and this serves as a way for us to provide others a leg up on their journey. Our goal is to leace a legacy which aids in shaping the lives of future engineering students for years to come.”

Brown said the scholarship has helped in many ways.

“As someone who cannot afford school, it helps me to stay in college without accumulating thousands of dollars in debt,” Brown said.

Being the recipient of the scholarship has even helped Brown outside the classroom.

“It allowed me to be able to afford the travel expenses to my summer internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif.,” Brown said. “That opportunity alone has opened numerous doors for my future. Undergraduate work experience at an institute such as NASA is invaluable.”

Based in Jackson, SOL Engineering Services offers services in civil and transportation engineering; project and construction management; facilities support and logistics management; emergency management; informational technology; enterprise resource planning; and environmental consulting.

For more information about SOL Engineering Services, visit www.solengrs.com.

More information about the Bagley College of Engineering can be found at www.bagley.msstate.edu.

By: Mary Kate McGowan