Meet Challenge Counselor, Edge Leader, and AAMI Student Assistant Alexander Pegues

How are you connected to the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (CSDI) or other Institute Diversity initiatives?

Through CSDI’s OMED: Educational Services, I participated in the Challenge program in Summer 2014, as a Challenge Counselor in Summer 2015, and as a mentee in the Edge program – as well as working as a student assistant for the African American Male Initiative (AAMI) since Spring 2017. Being a part of CSDI has helped to mold me into the leader that I am today.

What advice would you give to students on succeeding academically at Georgia Tech?

Figure out how you learn. Most classes are taught through the “sage on the stage technique” of a professor spouting out words while students franticly race to record all the lessons being taught. Maybe you learn better through the visualization of content. Maybe your notes look like comics because bold fonts and colors help you to quickly locate the ideas important to you. I read multiple articles and books on learning and how to succeed academically because I did not know how I learned best. Currently, making mega problem sets out of the homework, quizzes, and tests from engineering classes, which relies heavily on problem-solving, helps to figure out my weakest subjects, so I can utilize my limited time effectively. Solving the problem symbolically helps to cut down on the amount of time spent per problem. For instance, with algebra, you may get caught in the weeds instead of figuring out how to apply the fundamental concept to a problem. Organization is key because one could study for days without hitting on the key concepts that need to be mastered and executed on an exam.

What advice would you give to students on acclimating socially to Georgia Tech?

Follow your curiosity and be open to new experiences. Most people’s social lives revolve around the interests that they act on. Following your curiosity will lead you to people with a shared interest; this shared interest will open doors for you to see how similar people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities are to yourself. In addition, being open to new experiences will enable you to engage with people from different cultures who have shared interests but are also interested in items that are foreign to you. Obtaining a breadth of exposure in a controlled manner affords you the opportunity to meet and connect with various people; some of these people may become your best friends.

Where have you worked while at Georgia Tech, and what did you enjoy about that experience?

I have worked at both the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in their Advanced Human Integration Branch and Eastman Chemical Company in their Worldwide Engineering and Construction Group. Both jobs afforded me the opportunity to take the designs from my mind and create them in real-life. At GTRI, I designed and 3D printed multiple copies of soldier body units, and we later tested the device’s ergonomics by executing military exercises while carrying 100-pound ruck sacks. At Eastman, I designed and oversaw the manufacturing process for chemical product filters, and from this experience, I gained an appreciation for understanding the manufacturability of an item. Working at both companies has led me to realize that I truly enjoy developing products. Whether designing the initial concept in SolidWorks or iterating upon previous models to get closer to the customer’s dream, I have learned how to utilize my skills to effectively push products through the design phase with the details fully realized.

What has been your favorite Georgia Tech experience?

During my freshman year, Former U.S. President Barack Obama came to Georgia Tech to speak about education. I volunteered for the event where students stood in lines that wrapped around Tech Green for tickets to see Mr. Obama. The speech was riveting; the atmosphere in McCamish Pavilion was electrifying; and Mr. Obama was at the center of it all. The entire experience was surreal. From the helicopters flying over campus for days before the Former U.S. President arrived until Mr. Obama walked around shaking the hands of various students, I will never forget that wonderful experience.

What are you involved with on campus, and why?

I am currently involved with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and AAMI, and I am a resident assistant (RA). I have chosen each of these organizations to develop myself in a very specific way. Being in NSBE helps me to develop professionally and engage with students desiring to be engineers. In NSBE, professional engineers are also looking to give back to the people who will blaze new trails just as they had. My involvement with AAMI affords me the opportunity to connect exceptional young men with the resources to accelerate their growth and launch their careers. Being an RA helps to develop my confidence by consistently placing me in situations where I must confront someone doing something wrong and to further refine my soft skills by encouraging and uplifting the community around me. Each of these activities helps to refine my character while infusing my energy and passion for progress and service into the people that comprise this great campus.

What has been your study abroad experience while at Georgia Tech?

I had the pleasure of studying abroad in several European countries through the Oxford Study Abroad program. Traveling through various countries in Europe afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself in the unique culture of each location visited. This experience opened my eyes to lifestyles vastly different from the American way of living. However, the differences between my upbringing and the Europeans also made the similarities between my fellow traveling students and myself very clear. This study abroad experience put into perspective how alike Americans were, and we, as a group, bonded through this realization. I would encourage every person to study abroad, so they can gain new experiences and view the world from different perspectives as well.