August 31, 2011 – Fort Valley State University chemistry major Jessica Simpson is tenacious, motivated and wise beyond her years. “I basically grew up in a single-parent household,” said the 21-year-old Marietta, Ga. native. “I held down three jobs at the same time to make ends meet, and still graduated with over a 4.0 GPA.”
After graduating from Campbell High School, Simpson wasn’t convinced that college was the next step. After enrolling at FVSU, she adapted quickly and was sworn in as Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society’s student body president, got elected as FVSU’sStudent Government Association vice president, became a Lady Wildcats cheerleader and excelled as a Louis Stokes Association for Minority Participation program member.
This month, a national organization honored Simpson’s with a financial reward. The chemistry student is the first Fort Valley State University student to receive a $5,000 scholarship from the American Chemical Society to offset college expenses. Simpson is one of only 150 students across the nation to receive one.
“I think that I am an inspiration to not only FVSU STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors, but to the entire student body,” says Simpson. “I am proof that you can go anywhere and be anyone as long as you believe in yourself.”
“Jessica is a very outgoing, sweet person,” says Dr. Robin Bright, an FVSU assistant professor of chemistry and mentor. “She didn’t know if she wanted to come to college, but has worked very hard since coming here and has been an A-B student in the program.”
Simpson didn’t feel prepared when Bright encouraged her to apply for the award. “I thought since no one won it from FVSU, I might not have a chance. I hadn’t participated in any national research conferences in my sophomore year.”
That changed during the junior year when she placed third in a poster presentation. The research incorporated nanoparticles (a microscopic particle that behaves as a whole unit) in adhesives used in electronic packaging for devices such as iPads, smart phones and MP3 players.
Simpson graduates May 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then plans to enroll in graduate school at the University of Georgia.
“I plan to branch off into pharmaceutical sciences,” says Simpson. “But chemistry will always have a place in my heart.
Christina Milton, editorial assistant
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