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Keystone Scholar Anitra Jackson Named Cheyney University’s Nominee for Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence

​Cheyney University proudly nominates Anitra Jackson for the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence. Established by Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a founding member of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education's Board of Governors, the prestigious award is presented annually to a graduating senior at one of the 14 State System universities. The honor recognizes exceptional achievements in academics and participation in extra and co-curricular activities.

Jackson, a computer science and mathematics double major and Keystone Honors Academy Scholar, has immersed herself in understanding the complex studies of physics, math, computer science and software engineering, and demonstrates a strong commanding of the subjects via her impressive academic, research and internship record.
At Cheyney, the scholar has built an excellent rapport with faculty due to her exceptionally high standards, self-expectations and academic strengths. Her performance has earned her consistent Dean’s List recognition, and several academic honors and awards. Along with receiving a full scholarship to attend the University, she has also been awarded a national scholarship from the United States Department of Defense, Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Program.

"Anitra is very deserving of this honor,” said Nicole G. Rayfield, Director of the Keystone Honors Academy. “Her academic credentials are equally matched by her commitment to her community. Throughout her tenure at Cheyney, she has emerged as a natural leader – always ready to answer the call to serve others. It has been a pleasure to see her successfully balance the demands of her studies with her campus leadership roles and professional commitments. I believe she is a true ambassador for the University."

Leveraging knowledge gained through her math and computer science coursework, Jackson has engaged in a number of internships, has been selected as fellow at two prestigious research labs, the United States Department of Energy Fossil Laboratory (via the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship) and the US Department of Navy Research Laboratory, and has presented her research at several national conferences.

Additionally, Jackson has served at IBM as a software engineer, where she worked with a select group of peers to develop and test cutting-edge software for use by specific target markets. During summer 2017, she continued her work with the technology giant, and was later selected to attend and present at Apple’s World-Wide Developers Conference and OFC Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program. Upon her return to Cheyney in the fall, she presented on her work with IBM at our 2017 Natural & Applied Science (NAS) Annual Poster Symposium.

This exemplary young woman, was also selected as the only state representative for the HBCU All-Star White House Initiative. Due to this prestigious honor, Jackson was presented with the House Resolution No. 1044; providing recognition for her exceptional academic achievement, civic engagement and her work performed as a member of the US Department of Education White House Initiative for HBCUs. And, due to her many accomplishments, she was a featured guest on a 2017 episode of "Infinite Opportunities," a PCN TV program that spotlights the 14 State System universities.

Beyond Jackson's scholarly pursuits, she demonstrates a strong personal dedication to the diverse range of social justice issues impacting women and minorities within the computer science and math fields. A dedication that has led her to actively serve on the executive board of Association for Computing Machinery for Women, a campus-based organization supporting the emergence of women in the STEM fields.

The soon-to-be alumna is also equally devoted to exploring the factors that give rise to poverty, hunger, environmental devastation and injustice, so that she may cultivate the leadership skills to participate in positive change, and has been involved in a number of service projects locally, on campus, and in our extended community.

While balancing the demands of a challenging major, membership in the honors program, leadership positions in several campus organizations, including serving as CU's current President of the National Society for Leadership and Success, and participation as a two-sport student athlete; Jackson maintains a commitment to high academic standards.