keshaperry

They call him Mr. Collins!

In The Black Man on August 10, 2010 at 10:16 am

I met him when he was a “shy” freshman. I use shy very loosely. He is neither arrogant nor difficult to be around. He is a pleasant gentleman–has always been since the first day we met. He is respectful, idealistic, a great dresser (I’m a sucker for bowties) but a planner. He’s a visionary and a dedicated worker. He’s a mentor, a friend, a son, a brother, and he’s not one to shy away from any sports debate. He’s what I would want my son to be.

Nigel Collins is his name. He’s entering his final year at Mississippi State University. I have always admired Nigel. It is not difficult to admire the young man; he has an infectious personality. As I did with many incoming freshmen I asked the standard questions: “Where are you from? What’s your major?” Nigel proudly said “I’m from Senatobia, MS. Do you know where that is?” I smiled and said “yes.” I grew up not far from there. Connection 1. I told him we played Senatobia in basketball when I was in high school. He said “Oh, you like sports?!?” Connection 2. “Well, what’s your major, Nigel?” I asked again. His response, “Industrial Engineering.” Connection 3. “Stay with it, Nigel.” I had met quite a few students who wanted to be engineers, but by the second semester of their freshman year, they were on to something else–like many college students (I changed my mind several times before my first day of class freshman year). Connection 3: Although I was no engineering major–I have a desire to see more minorities and women enter into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.

For Mr. Collins, he seemed prepared to accept the challenges that lay ahead, undoubtedly, his commitment to his faith and his relationship with his mentors prepared him to take these challenges in stride. According to Dr. Calvin Mackie, African American professionals face a “cultural tax…This tax may manifest itself as heavy committee work on the job, as excess work to destroy “affirmative action” stereotypes, or as substantial community service in an effort to remain attached to or give something back to the community. Regardless, there is a tax borne by Black professionals that does more harm psychologically than it does monetarily.” In his article The African-American Engineer in the 21st Century: A Burden, Challenge, and Opportunity, Mackie issues a charge to African American engineers, yet this charge is not to be taken lightly and the work needed is not simple.

Nigel has accepted this charge.

Note:Congratulations to Dr. Donna S. Reese, Mississippi State U. professor and interim department head of computer science and engineering for receiving the Tau Beta Pi 2010 McDonald Mentoring Award. Click here to read more.

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