Tommie Award finalist and electrical engineering major Kevyn Perkins '22 has successfully balanced a challenging academic schedule with campus involvement during his time at St. Thomas. He's president of the Black Empowerment Student Alliance, been both an Ignite Research Scholar and a Ciresi Walburn Scholar, served as the student liaison to the Board of Trustees and more.
The Newsroom recently caught up with Perkins and asked him about everything from who the most influential person in his life is and how he relaxes to advice he has for others who want to become student leaders and his plans for after graduation. Here are the highlights from our conversation.
The final Tommie Award vote takes place Feb. 8-10.
What are you most proud of from your time at St. Thomas?
I am most proud of my resilience. I pushed through many obstacles and always stayed positive. You cannot control the things that come at you in life, but you can control your reaction to it.
You have been both an Ignite Research Scholar and a Ciresi Walburn Scholar. What did you learn from each of these programs?
From the Ignite Research Scholars Program, I learned about detailed digital circuits that are part of time-of-flight (ToF) imagers. These ToF imagers are part of light detection and ranging systems in autonomous vehicles and support augmented/virtual reality in mobile phones. After the research, we did the Sidewalk Symposium event where we drew a picture of our research around campus, followed by a final presentation. It was a great experience.
As a Ciresi Walburn Scholar, I continue to learn about leadership and professional development, and career preparation. My favorite memory while being a Ciresi Walburn Scholar is the retreat. It was a fun weekend to bond with my cohort.
You’re the president of the Black Empowerment Student Alliance (BESA). What has that group meant to you?
This group has meant the world to me. I have been a part of the club since freshman year. The events and general meetings are always fun. It is a great space to build community, educate others and enjoy yourself. I always look forward to seeing everyone.
What did you learn from serving as the student liaison to the Board of Trustees?
I learned that they really value student input and are always proactive. The position gave me the opportunity to learn about what goes on behind the scenes and the number of people who are committed to improving the community.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
As a proud mama’s boy, I have to say my mother has been the most influential person in my life. Growing up, I noticed her work ethic and the number of sacrifices she made. No matter what life threw at her, she always had a smile on her face and kept pushing. She was, and always will be, my superhero.
What do you do when you want to let go of everything and relax?
When I want to let go of everything and relax, I usually lie down and listen to chill R&B music.
What advice do you have for others who want to become student leaders at St. Thomas?
Be authentic and get outside of your comfort zone because that is where the most growth will happen. Do not be afraid to go for leadership positions on campus. You will learn a lot about yourself and gain numerous skills. The first step is the hardest step. After you get past that, the sky is the limit.
How did St. Thomas help you as a first-generation student?
St. Thomas has a program called Proud to be First. This program has helped me in ways I would have never imagined. I was exposed to networking events, career coaching, research opportunities and resume assistance. It is nice to be a part of a program that connects you to multiple resources on campus and other first-generation college students. We can rely on each other and grow together.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan to work in the medical device industry and pursue a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Having the thought of working on a device that will have a positive impact on someone’s life excites me.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Always stay true to yourself and remember where you come from. Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.