New doctors and internship participants recognized


TUSKEGEE, Alabama (May 9, 2014) — As spring commencement nears, several departments are honoring graduating seniors and showing their appreciation for their students’ hard work. Thursday, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering recognized the newest additions to their roster of Ph.D. candidates. 

Jeelani addresses audience.

Sarah Stringer, director of Career
Development and Placement Services.

Omari Johnson speaks about
internship experience.
A luncheon held today at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Tuskegee University for the department’s three spring graduates: Vitus Apalangya, Diane Render and Eldon Triggs. Two more candidates are expected to graduate this summer. Since the program was implemented in 1998, the university has produced 26 materials science and engineering doctors. 

Dr. Shaik Jeelani, head of the department and vice president for research and sponsored programs, said the university is unmatched in its production of black Ph.D. holders in materials science and engineering. He commended the new doctors on their accomplishments and thanked the supporting faculty and staff 

“It’s a big day for the faculty too… It’s not easy to produce a Ph.D.,” Jeelani said. 

Dr. Matthew Jenkins, Tuskegee University acting president, said he was pleased with the progress of the program and felt it was helpful in fulfilling America’s need for qualified math, science and technology professionals. 

“This program is good. It’s put us on the right track to step it up a bit,” Jenkins said. 

During the luncheon, the students shared stories of their journey in the program and expressed their appreciation. Eldon Triggs, a former Tuskegee professor, said he was “one of the most untraditional students anyone had ever seen,” but he was happy he chose to pursue his doctorate in the program. 

“It’s been a tough road, but I can’t think of a more rewarding road to have gone down,” Triggs said. 


Vitus Apalangya
“Biocompatible Polymer/Hydroxapatite Fibers for Bioengineering Scaffold Applications”

Diane Render
“Development of Colon 5-FU Delivery System Using Bio-Based Calcium Carbonate Nanoparticles”

Eldon Triggs
“Development and Life Cycle Analysis of Sustainable Natural Fiber Composites Using A Novel Plant Oil Based Polyester Resin”

Grateful for real experience

Career Development and Placement Services also recognized graduating students Thursday. The 2014 Summer Internship and Cooperative Education Awards Luncheon was held in the ballroom of the Kellogg Hotel. Each year, the event honors students who have participated in on-the-job learning experiences with various companies and industries. 

Many of the students shared stories of what they learned during their experiences and spoke of how on-the-job training helped their future plans. Omari Johnson, a chemical engineering major, said his internship helped make his career path clearer for him.

“They allowed me to see exactly what it was to be a chemical engineer,” Johnson said. “It’s an invaluable experience to have.”

Randi L. Harrison, an elementary education major, has participated in several summer teaching internships. She urged more students to take advantage of internship and cooperative education opportunities. 

“Be intentional with your time and your money because those are things you can never get back,” she said. “Spend your summers wisely, don’t waste time.”

Dr. Matthew Jenkins, Tuskegee University Acting President, said internships were almost non-existent for blacks when he was a student because of the prejudices of the time. He urged all students to consider the sacrifices and challenges of their predecessors and to not take any opportunity lightly. 

“What you do will open doors for others coming behind you,” Jenkins said. “You’re from Tuskegee; you should expect a lot of yourself.”

Trigg addresses audience.

PhD Grads pose with Dean Burge.

© 2014 Tuskegee University

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