By Jean Gordon Cook
(JACKSON, Miss.) – During his first summer internship at Harvard Medical School, Jackson State University chemistry major Ezana Demissie realized he was as well prepared as the other interns who came from other top schools all over the country.
“I was able to go toe-to-toe with them,” said Demissie, who will graduate on Saturday, May 7, during JSU’s undergraduate commencement ceremony at the Mississippi Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. “That is due in large part to Jackson State. I believe the chemistry department has the best professors on campus.”
Armed with his JSU degree, Demissie will continue his studies this fall at Harvard Medical School, where he will pursue a Ph.D. in immunology.
“I want to work on third-world diseases,” the 22-year-old Ethiopian native said. “Infectious diseases, especially HIV, are a huge concern back home.”
As an immunologist, Demissie plans to work on developing treatments for HIV and AIDS. He hopes his research will encompass work in North America and Africa.
A graduate of the Piney Woods School in central Mississippi, Demissie earned a full scholarship to study chemistry at Jackson State University. He is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and an impressive body of scientific research. Working under the direction of JSU associate professor of chemistry Glake Hill, Demissie has gained extensive research experience in computational chemistry, has presented at several scientific meetings and co-authored one scientific research paper.
While at JSU, Demissie has been the go-to person for science students with questions about chemistry and mathematics. He tutored students in organic chemistry, calculus and physical chemistry, which are among the subjects many students fear most. He has been an active member of the student-affiliate chapters of the American Chemical Society and the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists, where he served as president during 2009-2010. Demissie’s academic awards include the Best Chemistry Student Award (2008, 2009 and 2010), the President John A. Peoples Scholarship, the Soo and Kay Roh Scholarship and the American Deli Scholarship.
“The only thing that’s different about me from people back home is the opportunities I have been given,” Demissie said.
Jackson State University’s undergraduate commencement ceremony will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Mississippi Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. Ed Gordon, host of BET’s “Weekly with Ed Gordon,” will be the commencement speaker. The graduate ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, May 6, at the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center. JSU President Carolyn Meyers will be the commencement speaker at the graduate ceremony.
Photo of Ezana Demissie: http://www.jsums.edu/announcements/Ezana.jpg