Like most freshmen, DeNeshia Strawter started her academic journey at FVSU having earned no credit hours. But when she went home for this past Christmas break, a little over a year later, she was already classified as a junior. The native of the small town of Leary, GA acknowledges that she pushes herself very hard, but there is a reason behind her doggedness. She wants kids to believe in themselves and know that hard work and persistence are the keys to achievement, no matter where they are from.
“It motivates me,” she said of her small-town upbringing. “I like to think that it’s not where you start that’s important, but where you are going, and not how you start but how you end. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
DeNeshia credits her FVSU experience with helping her develop as a scholar and as a person. “FVSU has helped me grow by exposing me to adulthood, being on my own and managing my life the FVSU way— having structure, having people that care about you, and having people to motivate you into becoming the person you want to become.”
She knows that mathematics is a daunting major for a college student of any race, gender, or background, but believes that the nurturing environment at FVSU has helped her handle a demanding workload and complex subject matter. “Great professors have always been there for me— having open office hours and open communication. I have to give credit to my peers too, and to myself for being studious and trying to do my best at all times. It’s teamwork.”
She has particular fondness for the students she has lived and studied with and the common direction in which they are headed in life. “I’m surrounded by individuals who are like-minded,” she said. “We’re all here for the same goal. We want to achieve. I don’t feel like I am alone.”
Her coursework takes up a lot of her time, but she’s made time for plenty of other activities. She’s a student senator in the Student Government Association, a Valley Girl athletics supporter, community service chair for the National Association of Negro Women, and a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and the FVSU Mathematics and Automation Club. This past summer, she conducted research with FVSU professor Dr. Jianmin Zhu, helping to perform statistical analyses related to risk factors leading to pre-term births.
DeNeshia has always enjoyed mathematics, and so she sees her desire to become an engineer as a calling. She was accepted into FVSU’s groundbreaking Cooperative Developmental Energy Program (CDEP), and like other CDEP scholars, she’s on track to graduate from FVSU in three years and then go on to earn a second bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.
FVSU, DeNeshia says, pushes students to set higher expectations for themselves. During one semester, she took a course load of 21 credit hours including an online class. It was tough, but she actually appreciated the pressure. She learned that she could do whatever it takes to get it done. “If I had to do it again, I would, because it showed me that I could do anything I put my mind to,” she said.
Her will to succeed is based largely on faith.
“I wouldn’t be here without faith in God, faith in myself, faith in my professors and faith in my support system,” she said.