Junior computer engineering major earns internship, $25,000 Apple scholarship

JSU’s junior computer engineering major Taha Merghani is one of among 30 elite scholarship awardees from 47 HBCUs. He also will attend a summer internship in Cupertino, Calif.

JSU junior computer engineering major Taha Merghani is one of among 30 elite scholarship awardees from 47 HBCUs. He also will attend a summer internship in Cupertino, Calif.

Jackson State University junior computer engineering major Taha Merghani has been awarded a one-year college scholarship totaling up to $25,000 and a summer internship as part of the Apple HBCU Scholars Program – his second distinguished honor since arriving at JSU.

The Sudanese native is among an elite group of only 30 students selected nationally to receive this award.

Merghani credits JSU for having a major impact in his life by “making college education a reality for me.” The gifted student said, “JSU provided an academic scholarship and helped to produce amazing internship opportunities that I needed for my personal and professional growth.”

$40 million multiyear commitment

T HE Apple HBCU Scholars Program is part of the new Apple and Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Diversity Initiative between Cupertino (Calif.) and TMCF. As part of the partnership, Apple made a $40 million multiyear commitment, the largest and most comprehensive corporate investment ever given exclusively for students and faculty of four-year HBCUs.

Merghani was admitted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a 2015 summer internship. The MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP) receives applications from highly talented students throughout the country.

Before coming to the U.S., Merghani was the top student among more than 600,000 peers who took the standard high school examinations in Sudan.

He said he has long been fascinated by computers. “I chose to pursue a degree in computer engineering because I wanted to get in-depth knowledge of both hardware and software. … I have developed a passion for utilizing software to facilitate interaction between humans and computers through natural language.

Hosted by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the Apple scholars program chose the students from among 47 HBCUs.

Create revolutionary wonder

RECIPIENTS were announced by Denise Young-Smith, vice president for Apple’s worldwide human resources. Young-Smith is a graduate of an HBCU, Grambling State University.

“The people at Apple don’t just create products they create the kind of wonder that’s revolutionized entire industries,” Young-Smith said at the ceremony. “And it’s the diversity of those people and their ideas that inspire the innovation that runs through everything we do – from amazing technology to industry-leading environmental efforts,” she said.

“There are scholarships and then there are scholarship programs,” said TMCF president & CEO Johnny C. Taylor Jr. “Apple has made an historic investment in a scholarship program that will transform the lives of HBCU star students by not only removing the financial barriers to college attendance but by providing additional non-financial program elements such as Apple mentors and summer internships. These Apple HBCU Scholars will be the future tech industry leaders.”

Opportunity to serve as ambassadors

THE scholarship includes up to $25,000 for students’ senior year; a summer internship in Cupertino; participation in a year-round program to prepare for post-graduation careers; as well as the opportunity to serve as ambassadors on their campuses to build awareness about the Apple and TMCF Diversity Initiative. In addition, the scholarship includes an invitation to attend TMCF’s Annual Leadership Institute and participation in the Apple HBCU Immersion Experience in Cupertino.

According to TMCF, HBCUs award 22 percent of the bachelor’s degrees earned by African-Americans, and HBCU graduates account for 40 percent of the nation’s African-American engineers, making the institutions a smart place for Apple to look for talent.

Meanwhile, Merghani said he owes a great debt of gratitude to JSU.

“I have grown to understand the challenges that we face as locals and global citizens, and I couldn’t be more excited to fly high the flag of this wonderful institution.”