LaWanda Jones, CE’91 (second from left), is not one to shy away from a challenge.
As a student, she handled a rigorous engineering curriculum. As an engineer who progressed into the marketing field, she prevailed over a different set of challenges. And today, as the first female to chair the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on African American Recruitment and Retention (CACAARR) at S&T, she readily accepts a new challenge: to help S&T recruit a more diverse student body.
“There’s no doubt an urgency for more technical minds needed to resolve our nation’s most pressing issues,” says Jones, the corporate marketing manager for ABNA Engineering. “As our population continues to experience a diverse shift, we must do all we can to prepare the next generations with educational opportunities to equip our society with leaders in technical careers.”
This past spring, Jones began her term as chair of CACAARR, following Gregory Skannal, GeoE’85, who serves on the alumni association board. The committee, made up of alumni volunteers, advises the chancellor’s office on matters related to African American recruitment. Established in the mid-1980s in response to concerns related to campus diversity, early members created a lasting platform and generated a series of scholarships for African-American students. And it’s making a difference. Minority enrollment has nearly doubled since 2000.
To build on this foundation, Jones encourages her fellow alumni to support a new challenge, presented by Lt. Gen. Joe N. Ballard, MS EMgt’72. Recently, Ballard and his wife, Tessie, donated $250,000 to create the Ballard Challenge to support more minority students at S&T. A portion of these funds is dedicated to providing $5,000 matches to encourage other alumni to endow scholarships of their own.
“Through this challenge, we have a unique opportunity to create a legacy which will empower African American talent for years to come,” Jones says.
For more information about the Ballard Challenge, contact Greg Harris in Missouri S&T’s development office at 800-392-4112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.