For years, Jackson State University biology graduate Justin A. Standifer embraced a quote from Malcolm X that says “an education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” He held onto that belief as he walked across the stage as a first-generation college graduate during commencement earlier this month in the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center.
The motivation he received from that quote propelled Standifer, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, to his current role as a science teacher at IDEA University Prep in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Because he completed his bachelor’s coursework before commencement, he has since enrolled as a graduate student studying education at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Describing himself as a “natural servant,” Standifer decided to become a student-leader at JSU. He served as the president of the Campus Activities Board, a charter member of Men of Excellence and election commissioner for the Student Government Association.
“Enrolling at Jackson State University was an excellent choice because it gave me the opportunity to make a difference and grow tremendously as a person,” Standifer said. He chose to become a teacher because “I want to change my community and end the narrative that African American students cannot get a quality education.”
He said he had a “joyful” experience at JSU. “I’ve always tried to make the best of every situation.” Also, he proved that he’s adept at juggling multiple tasks by working as a science teacher while simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree. He credits JSU for helping him to explore the depth of his skills and to build a network of influencers.
Despite his busy life, Standifer continues to devote many hours to volunteering and mentoring. He said he’s fueled by the enormous support provided over the years. He expressed gratitude to relatives, faculty and staff – and especially those in JSU’s Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services.
“I want to thank my mother, Letrece Merriweather, family, Scottie Willis, Alla Frank, Mi’kasa Mitchell, Dr. F. Hannah-Jefferson and Kamesha Hill. Each of them pushed me to exceed expectations and give my all in everything I do,” Standifer said.
Now, as a newly minted alum, Standifer will do his part to continue giving back to Jackson State University.
(For more information about this story, contact L.A. Warren, firstname.lastname@example.org)