By Troy Wilde
December 28, 2016
Tucson, AZ – DJ Stroughter is pursuing an engineering degree, but he may use his education in areas outside of engineering.
DJ explains, “I like the opportunities it presents post-graduation, but I’m not certain that I want to be an engineer for the rest of my working life. Even though I’ve gotten through the (engineering) degree, and I do well academically, I think my strengths can be elsewhere – and even more so – my strengths can be applied in bringing engineer-style thinking to areas that engineering isn’t directly concerned with.”
DJ, age 23, was born in Chandler, Arizona and graduated from Gilbert High School in 2012. He’s currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering at the University of Arizona.
After graduating from the U of A, DJ says his next big step will be getting a good job, “My degree is pretty versatile and it can be applied across many industries, and many career fields. So, I’m just looking to take the next step beyond college into the job arena, and kind of see what I like from there. Some of my strengths include being personable, so any job where I’m working with people, would really fit well with my personality. I’m also interested in lean processes, efficiency, and things like that – those are all of the things that my degree is concerned with.”
Meanwhile, for DJ, college has been a tough but rewarding journey:
“In my case it wasn’t just a smooth path, that’s why I’m here a fifth year. Having to start from the ground, and almost be broken down, and then be built back up, and here near the end of it to come away with something, and come away stronger than I was coming into it – is a beautiful thing.”
DJ explains that university has opened many doors, “One thing I think is priceless about college, is the amount of opportunity that it presents. Not only the opportunity to get a degree and chase a dream, but just by becoming a student here at the university it linked me to hundreds, or even thousands of resources, that I would not have otherwise. The resources, opportunities, and networking are priceless as well.”
DJ Stroughter is among the hundreds of hard-working students from low income circumstances who have earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona. In addition to financial support, the scholarship provides specialized mentoring services through a team of highly skilled “Success Advisers.”
Matt Sotelo is DJ’s success adviser, “Matt is somebody I truly look at as a friend and somebody who is just really looking out for me. So many advisers are more ‘by the book,” but Matt is really a friend and somebody I can confide in, and really look to for advice. No matter what the situation or what my grades look like, or whatever I come to him with, he’s always very positive and encouraging, and he always believed in me.”
The scholarship also provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, which DJ says is a game-changer, “It has helped out a lot. The College Success scholarship was really the last piece to give me a full ride to come down here to the University of Arizona. I’m sure of that six-thousand dollars, at some point in my five years here, it’s paid for a little bit of everything. Whether it be me getting some food one day, or my books or rent – those funds have been crucial for me getting through school. If not for this scholarship, I don’t know if I would even be at university.”
Beyond the books, DJ works part-time and serves as the co-vice president of the National Society of Black Engineers, “It’s an engineering club here on campus that is catered toward Black engineers, but of course is open to everyone. It’s been a great leadership experience. The club started with a just few people when I joined up and since then we’ve been able to boost membership, bring some major companies out, and really increase opportunities for the club. I’ve attended two national conventions with the club that were funded by the university and funds generated through our organization. I’ve met numerous employers and made various contacts, who can likely help me get a job in the future.”
DJ has some advice for middle and high school students considering college, “Definitely chase your dreams. One thing that college has shown me is that we have a world of growing opportunity. Our current generation, and generations to come, have more opportunity than any of the generations past, and it’s going to continue to grow that way. So, with all of this opportunity that is out there, don’t be afraid to come to college and chase the degree that you want, and follow the career path that you want. I’ve witnessed it first-hand here at the university, through my own experience and that of other people, that almost anything is possible if you dedicate yourself to your work.”