LaFayette High Alum receives academic excellence award from McNair Scholars Program

Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

Jalan Drummond, a LaFayette High alumni, recently received an academic excellence award for having the highest GPA in the McNair Scholars program at Jackson State University.

Drummond graduated from LaFayette High School as the valedictorian in 2020. He was a drum major at LaFayette High and continues to play the drums in college. Much of Drummond’s ambition comes from role models in his life like his mother who is a registered nurse.

“While she was getting her degree, I stayed with my grandma a lot, like going to school from her house, catching the bus,” Drummond said. “So just seeing both of them working together and working hard every day inspired me to do big things outside of LaFayette.”

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Drummond watched his mother get her degree. He remembered watching medical tv shows like Gray’s Anatomy at home with her and becoming inspired.

“It inspired me to want to get a degree in a health profession,” Drummond said. 

Coming from a town with a rich history like LaFayette, Drummond knew that he wanted to attend a historically black college or university. He now studies biology/pre-med at Jackson State University. He is an honors junior. He has been a member of the McNair Scholars Program since he began college. 

“From that moment, I always knew that I wanted to go to a HBCU because I did not want to be a number,” Drummond said. “I wanted to be a name. And I felt like being around people that looked like me that all had the same goals in life would continue to push me.”

The McNair Scholars Program is a program geared toward preparing undergraduate students for doctoral studies through research and scholarship. Students in the program have access to resources like seminars and internship opportunities. The students recently went on a tour to Mississippi State University.

“I feel like it’s a great program. I’ve definitely enjoyed being a part of it. Just getting to know more people here at school and the city of Jackson as well,” Drummond said. “The support has been great, actually just making sure we know things like how financial aid is different from undergraduates or graduates degree, and going on tours to graduate schools and talking to people from different institutions.”

The program puts an emphasis on first generation students, those in financial need and members of underrepresented groups. According to the website, the program’s aim is to “increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.”

Drummond has faced many challenges since moving away for college, not least of which is taking care of his mental health. Sometimes, college isn’t the best environment for maintaining time management and stress levels. Drummond, like many successful students, has moments of doubt.

“I feel like I have a big case of imposter syndrome. Sometimes I’ll be in big rooms that don’t feel like I’m supposed to be there,” he said.

Like many out-of-state students, Drummond found himself feeling homesick, especially this year. He worried that he was missing out on things happening in his hometown. One of those things has been the recent court hearings on the decision of the location of the LaFayette High School and Valley High School consolidation.

“As a graduate of LaFayette high school, it feels like the legacy is being diminished or ripped away from Earth but I’m trying to stay positive and remember it’s for the kids coming up still,” Drummond said. “They need to have a better quality of education that I felt like I did — even though, yes, I was blessed in some areas but in some other areas, I could have been more prepared coming to college. So I hate to see LaFayette High School go, but I feel like hopefully one day it’ll be better in the future.” 

Though Black History Month has come to an end, the importance of representation in school is as strong as ever. Drummond said he had many role models who helped him to be successful including his mother, both band directors and many more.

“I feel like having a role model, especially one that looks like you — it just shows you that you can do what you’re putting your mind to do,” Drummond said.