Business helps student with 'Nexxtep'

Jason A. Smith | The Valdosta Daily TimesAnne Shenton, agency director of the Ascend division of Nexxtep, with Amanda Mitchell, recipient of the Outstanding CIS Major Award.

VALDOSTA — College is expensive, and from time to time, local businesses give a monetary boon to college students.

Amanda Mitchell, a senior at Valdosta State University, was awarded a $500 scholarship by Nexxtep.

Nexxtep is a local, full-service information technology business.

The Outstanding CIS Major Award is given to seniors in the computer information systems department at VSU, said Krishnendu Roy, associate professor and department head for computer science at VSU.

Mitchell was thankful to the company and to her professors for their teachings and nominating her for the award.

“I honestly, I cannot express how thankful I am to Nexxtep, VSU and Dr. Dave Gibson, who is the teacher who nominated me,” she said. “He is a fantastic teacher. He has taught me, I feel like, everything I know in the world of computer science, and I am just so eternally grateful for him, and the influence he has had on me at VSU.”

She plans to use the money to buy equipment for her future career.

“I am probably going to put it towards a new laptop for work whenever I graduate,” she said.

Nexxtep relies on teachers in the computer science department to choose the recipient, said Stuart Avera, chief technology officer, because they know who is most deserving of the award.

The teachers first find the students with the highest grade point average during the selection process, Roy said. Then, the teachers look at academic work, internships and involvement with clubs on campus; and, a winner is determined through a vote. 

“It’s extremely important for businesses to support students,” Roy said. “ First of all it shows that they are invested in the success of VSU, the department and the students. 

“Second of all, this motivates students to do well. And, this helps them perform better because they know, ‘You know what, if I do well, I will be able to get awards like this and scholarships like this.”

Roy said scholarships like this one are also a way for businesses to connect with students and seek out potential employees.

To complement Roy’s previous statement, Avera said Nexxtep began the scholarship five years ago, and it’s a way to give back to a department that has given the company several employees.

“It was just our way of giving back to the department and to the university, and to help a student out,” Avera said. “A few of them have actually become Nexxtep employees.”

Mitchell will be finishing classes during the summer and will graduate in December, she said. After, she is done with school, and plans to try and find a job in Valdosta because she likes the area and wants to be close to family.

“I like that it’s a small town feel with a bunch of things that you can do,” she said. “I mean, it’s a big town, but a small town feel in terms of people.” 

Jason Smith is a reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be contacted at 229-244-3400 ext.1257.

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