With an ambition to be a trailblazer for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), junior biological systems engineering scholar, Imani Cooper is chosen to represent Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University for the White House All Star program.
Cooper who applied a second time after being denied last year, does not let anything or anyone count her out. Being referred by the College of Agricultural and Food Sciences Professor Charles Maghee Ph.D., was the catalyst to Cooper’s interest in the All Star program.
“Ms. Cooper has a very good work ethic, especially academically. She is a Resident Assistant at FAMU Village West while keeping a high GPA in this field, it speaks highly of her discipline,” said Maghee.
Professor Maghee asked Cooper to help with a display at the Tallahassee Airport during a previous homecoming, where she greeted alumni entering Tallahassee for the game. Maghee felt that this spoke well of her character and professionalism, which reinforced his supporting recommendation for the Historical Black College and University All- Star Program.
The HBCU All Star program is under a White House Initiative. Students from any HBCU can apply for the ambassadorship and serve a one-year appointment. Students who are tasked as “All Stars” are the student representation for their campus. These students focus on establishing initiatives to improve their campus and network with cohorts and local representatives.
The program focuses on the communication between the White House and HBCUs through internships, fellowships, and assistance for the nation’s HBCUs.
“The HBCU All Star program is more than recognition for being a good student,” Cooper said. “It’s an opportunity to take the issues on your campus and fix them. Using the resources the White House has, whether it’s the federal agencies, alumni, or other HBCUs. It’s a platform for change!”
Before becoming one of the HBCU All Stars, Cooper was and still is active on and off campus. She currently serves as Miss Gold for the Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the Founder and President of the FAMU Women Student Union, A YMCA Reads Mentor, a 2016 Orientation Leader, an active member of the National Association of Black Engineers, and participates in the choir at Family Worship and Praise Center in Tallahassee, Fl.
Electrical Engineering Doctoral Candidate Tia Bolden, who is currently mentoring Cooper, sees a lot of herself in Cooper. They initially connected because of their majors but later their relationship deepened because of their desire to empower women and their love for campus and community involvement.
“As a double minority, we understood each other’s struggles in the classroom, workplace, and within opportunities. By both of us realizing that you have to work twice as hard for half of what you deserve, we empowered one another to become better,” said Bolden.
Bolden admires her persistence, ambition, and goal oriented character. She continues to see the growth in Cooper, and hopes that it will push her beyond her potential overall.
At some point, Cooper aspires to create a food assistantship for students on campus that hones in on aiding food insecurities that often affects students. This program would include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and financial assistance literacy.
“We will attend local and regional government meetings, and network with their offices to help get our initiatives in place,” Cooper said.
An initiative of Cooper’s is already underway – the FAMU Women Student Union, which is an extension of the Florida State University WSU. The Women Student Union focuses on uniting and empowering women on campus and in the community.
“I plan to partner with other women organizations on campus,” Cooper said. “I want to engage the women on campus with the community. And focus on empowering women to reach personal, professional, and political goals.”
In the future, Cooper wants to connect with past FAMU All Stars.
After graduating from FAMU, Cooper plans to receive her Ph.D. in either civil or environmental engineering and attain her professional engineering license.
Over 60 students were chosen for the program from various HBCUs. This year’s FAMU representatives along with Cooper included Alex Washington and Ekaya Ellis.
You can find more information on the program at https://sites.ed.gov/whhbcu/resources/hbcu-all-star-students/