Friday, July 13, 2018

Colen James Selected as Jesse Jackson Fellow – Toyota Scholarship Recipient

It all started with an email forward from Regennia Johnson, director of the AT&T Summer Bridge Program and staff member in the OU Engineering Diversity & Inclusion Program.

Colen James, a sophomore computer engineering student from Pearland, Texas, followed through on that email about the scholarship opportunity. He’s glad he did, as he received notification in July that he is one out of 10 students awarded the $75,000 Rainbow PUSH/Excel Jesse Jackson Fellowship-Toyota North America Scholarship and CO-OP/Internship. James will be attending a celebration dinner and awards presentation ceremony this August in Chicago.

James is very thankful for this honor, as demonstrated by his thank you email to the following:

Regennia Johnson – Director of AT&T Summer Bridge Program, OU Gallogly College of Engineering
Ms. Regennia, first and foremost, thank you for sending me the scholarship opportunity information and encouraging me to apply.

Jabar Shumate – Vice President for University Community, OU
Mr. Jabar, thank you for writing a letter of recommendation to support my application. I really appreciated you not making me write it myself, and then you sign it like some people ask you to do. Your letter of recommendation let me and others know that you really knew me and my potential. My participation in the 2017 OU George McLaurin Male Leadership Conference helped me as an incoming freshman. I also benefited by volunteering with the 2018 Leadership Class. Those experiences really connected us.

Lisa Morales – Executive Director of the Diversity and Inclusion Program, Gallogly College of Engineering
Ms. Lisa, thank you and the entire Diversity & Inclusion team for making so many opportunities available for the D&I students. Those practice interviews, resume writing and group projects during the MEP Orientation and Freshman Engineering Experience classes were right on time! The STAR Interview and panel interview experiences gave me the confidence I needed. I had to go through two rounds of panel interviews using the STAR interview process with Toyota and Rainbow Push leadership over a two-day period.

Bushra Ashif, Global Engagement Fellowship and Fulbright Program Coordinator, OU College of International Studies
Professor Bushra, thank you for the Global Engagement experiences and scholarship. Fresh off my summer study abroad experience in Puebla, Mexico, prepared me to develop and present projects during the June Toyota two-day Interview Sell Event in Plano, Texas. I was able to step up and create the product idea. I led the group presentation with the elevator pitch during the group project that was a part of the judging process. I really slayed it! I'm sure my Global Engagement experiences listed on my resume set me apart from the other 22 finalists.

Crystal Garcia, Director of Diversity and Inclusion/MEP, OU Gallogly College of Engineering
Ms. Crystal, my freshman participation in the AT&T Summer Bridge Program provided me with the group experiences, technical references and situations to refer to during my STAR interviews. Having the opportunity to be a calculus 1 tutor and help students in this year's AT&T Summer Bridge Program is enabling me to pay it forward and make some money at the same time! LOL!

Nanette Hathaway, Director of President's Leadership Class and Crimson Club Coordinator
Ms. Hathaway, thank you for planning and coaching us during the weekly PLC networking and connection sessions. Through those experiences, I was able to make some great friends and contacts during my freshman year. Being a member of the PLC also helped set me apart from the other candidates.

C. Don Bradley, Associate Dean of Recruitment Services, Special Assistant to the Vice President, OU
Mr. C. Don, thank you for recruiting me during the OU Day in Houston. You kept your promise and stayed connected with me throughout my freshman year. I really want to thank you and Mr. Jabar for helping me get through the death of Granny Joyce the day before my finals. I don't know what I would have done without your support during one of the most emotional times in my life.

Matthew Hamilton, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Financial Services
Mr. Matthew, you were so right! There were so many opportunities for me to figure out and plan to ensure that my college expenses were paid for without taking out student loans. Thank for always remembering me by name when I see you around campus.

As a computer engineering student in the Gallogly College of Engineering, I was definitely a standout among the other candidates representing colleges and universities from all over the United States. My design engineering, digital design, physics and programming classes gave me the technical experiences, vocabulary and confidence needed during the interviews and group project discussions.

Walking into Toyota North America Corporation’s awesome new high-tech building was not as overwhelming and intimidating as it may have been for some of the other candidates. I was at ease in the new state-of-the-art building and was familiar with the technical equipment because I have those experiences every day at OU! Lastly, meeting Toyota Boomer Sooners in high-level positions and on the interview panels made me feel right at home.

Once again, thank you OU family members for preparing me for this incredible journey. Every one of my OU freshman experiences with you positioned me for this phenomenal opportunity with Toyota North America Corporation. I can only imagine what the next three years at OU have in store for me. I'll keep you posted!

Boomer Sooner!

About the Jesse Jackson Fellow – Toyota Scholarship Program
Toyota partnered with PUSH Excel to provide $75,000 scholarships to 10 deserving engineering and business college students through the Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Fellows Scholarships. In addition to the scholarships, Toyota offers these students the opportunity to work at one of their facilities across North America to gain valuable real-world experience, as well as be paired with mentors from Toyota management to help guide them through the next three years of college.

Students also had to demonstrate participation in community service and a financial need. The $25,000 scholarship is renewable each year for a maximum three-year period. In order to receive the award each year, the students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 throughout the school year.

The selection process was both rigorous and comprehensive. A group of 22 student semi-finalists went through a structured selection process which involved written essays, letters of recommendations, and rounds of onsite interviews involving several members of PUSH Excel, as well as Toyota’s executive and management teams in Northern Kentucky.

As part of the selection process students took an in-depth tour of Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing facility in North America, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Inc. in Georgetown, Kentucky; were guided through the various disciplines of running a local Toyota dealership; and through management and employee discussions learned about the local and global history of Toyota.

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