Senior Spotlight: D’Andre Jackson
D’Andre Jackson, a member of the first SMASH Wayne State cohort, is a senior and baseball player at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan. During his freshman year, he first learned of SMASH through his school counselor, and then he had to decide if he should leave his existing enrichment program to participate in SMASH. After going through the pros and cons, D’Andre chose SMASH.
From an early age, D’Andre has had an interest in STEM. Specifically, he wants to learn how things work, and as a child he would take things apart and put them back together. He fondly remembers, that as a child he had a circuit building toy that he could build over 100 different circuits and how much he enjoyed manipulating it. D’Andre’s love of wires and circuits motivated him to explore STEM as a career path.
SMASH has helped strengthen D’Andre’s love of STEM, and more specifically mechanical and electrical engineering. The robotics course SMASH offered provided a greater insight into electrical engineering and helped him focus his STEM career path to mechanical and electrical engineering. Plus, D’Andre attributes his organizational and time management skills to SMASH.
D’Andre is one of 26 Wayne State Scholars participating in the SMASH Admit program. This program provides SMASH seniors with the opportunity to have a college coach who will guide them through the college application process. Going into his senior year, D’Andre felt he was ahead of the game. He had taken the SAT three times, he worked on the college common application, and he had narrowed down his top higher educational institutions (North Carolina A&T, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Pursue, and Rice University). With the SMASH coach, he was able to get additional guidance that he needed for the college application process.
For his last year in SMASH Academy, D’Andre wants to continue to strengthen his organizational and time management skills. In addition, he would like to get more exposure in STEM subjects, specifically mechanical and electrical engineering. D’Andre acknowledges that his high school career would be different if he had not participated in SMASH.
John Ray, Midwest Regional Director, said, “Dre has exhibited tremendous growth through the SMASH program at Wayne State. He’s had the opportunity to further explore his college and career aspirations while adding invaluable skills such as stress management, organization, and networking. There are very few places where one can accomplish all of that among people who come from similar backgrounds and neighborhoods. I look forward to the amazing things he will continue to do on behalf of Detroit and his tribe.”
D’Andre wants future SMASH scholars to know that this is an excellent opportunity for the “best of the best” to dive deep into STEM while being exposed to college life. This is a program that will help prepare people of color for a future in STEM. Yes, SMASH Academy is challenging, but as a minority, you will face adversity, and SMASH prepares you for these challenges.
Once his SMASH career is over, D’Andre plans on giving back. First, he will give back through his time and talent. He would like to help recruit future scholars, as well be a mentor. And, once he is in the position to do so, D’Andre would like to financially support SMASH. He is grateful to have been able to participate in SMASH and for the program to be tuition free for all scholars. It only makes sense to give back so that future generations can also participate at no-cost.
D’Andre’s final thought is for SMASH leaders and staff, “Please keep pushing minority youth to go into the STEM field.” The exposure to STEM and higher education is invaluable.