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Scholarship Story

SME Scholarship Helps Jackson State Student Focus Solely on Studies

kaile-johnson.jpgKaile Johnson, a 19-year-old environmental engineering student at Jackson State University in Mississippi, has been able to attend school debt-free since receiving SME’s $10,000 IQAir North America Scholarship in Fall 2022.

“The scholarship took away a lot of stress about how I’ll pay for school and it allowed me to just focus on school,” says Johnson. “And that is a great thing in itself, because I actually enjoy learning.”

A native of Sherwood, Arkansas, Johnson chose to attend Jackson State due to the success of its College of Science, Engineering and Technology, and also because the college has a high retention and graduation rate.

Now a sophomore, Johnson decided to become an environmental engineer so she could be involved in all aspects of engineering and manufacturing. “Environmental engineering is a very broad umbrella, because everything in our world affects our environment,” she says. “And I like making an impact on others, so I think being an environmental engineer will allow me to do that. I’ll be able to touch and improve lives globally.”

Equipment.jpgHer ultimate career goals are many, and include conducting a research project on how pollutants travel in air, water and land; creating a pollution filter for stacks; and serving as project manager for an underwater veterinarian clinic for marine animals. With those goals in mind, Johnson says she has been connecting with a lot of engineers on campus.

Johnson’s interest in manufacturing began with her experience within an academic Center of Excellence (CoE) at her high school, when she was asked to choose a career pathway from the fields of engineering, manufacturing, criminal justice, computer science, biomedical science and medical professions. “Given those choices, I chose engineering, because after being introduced to all the other pathways, I felt like engineering would allow me to actually be a part of all of them,” she says.

So far, Johnson has been doing well academically at Jackson State. “I’ve been doing a good job considering that for the last two semesters I’ve been taking 18 credit hours and maintaining a 3.5 GPA,” she says.

Regarding her SME scholarship, Johnson applied for it in the beginning of 2022 and was notified she received it in May of that year. She says the preparation involved in applying for it — including gathering recommendations from teachers, requesting her school transcript and writing a personal statement — took over a month.

But it was all well worth it, according to Johnson. “I am really appreciative of getting this scholarship, because this has really been a great honor to just focus on school and not have to worry about any financial burdens,” she says.