As a high school student, JaQwan Works spent time installing electrical outlets for a family friend in the construction business. Easily handling the approximately 100-volt outlets, an interest was sparked in electrical engineering.
What he did not know at the time was that he would eventually implement up to 400,000 volts of electricity in MSU’s Paul B. Jacobs High Voltage Laboratory. After a college journey he wouldn’t trade for anything, the senior electrical engineering major from Hernando now on the cusp of graduation said his sights are set on a career in the power industry or in electrical design.
A standout football player and student in high school, advanced coursework came easy to Works. However, that changed when he got to MSU and quickly learned the same level of academic effort—which often included procrastination—that earned him As in high school would fall short in his challenging college classes.
“I think the biggest transition for me was basically not having somebody there to tell you what to do, or not having somebody hold you accountable,” Works said. “You have to learn to take school seriously and have accountability within yourself. Coming to college humbled me in a lot of ways. I had to take the work ethic I had learned from playing football and put that into school. It took me about a year to acclimate, but it’s been good since.”
Originally from Sacramento, California, Works has taken to the lifestyle that comes with more rural areas. In his spare time, he enjoys bass fishing and other outdoor activities. While he still has connections in California, he is hoping to remain in the South after graduation.
During his time at MSU, Works has balanced jobs, social activity, research and teaching opportunities while pursuing his degree. He worked as a supervisor at Kroger before getting a research assistant job in the High Voltage Lab. He also has served as a teaching assistant for an introductory electrical and computer engineering design course, which allows him to mentor younger students and share his perspective as someone who was very recently in their shoes.
Works is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of African American Studies on campus, as well as Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. Works said that one of his favorite things about MSU is that everybody he comes in contact with on campus is invested in seeing him and other students succeed.
“Electrical engineering wasn’t quite what I expected, but I’ve loved it and MSU,” Works said. “I just love the family-like atmosphere here. I think college is what you make of it. I’ve had a great time here, made great friends, had great professors and I love Mississippi State.”