The group of Junior achievers going to Southern commonly known as Top Jags is a group of highly achieving career-oriented students at Southern University A&M college that work towards academic excellence and community involvement. As Ms. Yolander Smith, a Top Jags coordinator commented, the endeavor of this program is to “Promote top talented students across the country to matriculate as southern university students and to support them throughout their academic journey.’’
The Top Jags program is tailored to help students who meet a certain requirement (3.0 cumulative GPA in addition to a 21ACT Score or an equivalent SAT score of 1440-1490) with the integration and continued matriculation through college. This allows the program to be available for both incoming and current students at Southern University who demonstrate academic excellence.
The organization was founded by Mr. Eldred Jackson, a Southern University Alumni, and Ms. Patricia Deamer, as they saw the need for a system of support and encouragement for high achieving students. Mr. Jackson, in fact, affirms: “Ms. Deamer and I wanted to give back to Southern University and we knew that there were exceptional students out there that might want to learn more about Southern”, so they started to recruit those particular students giving rise to Top Jags. Other Top Jags coordinators include Ms. Patricia Deamer, Alumni Federation Executive Director Mr. Derrick Warren, Ms. Latoria Williams, and campus advisors, Ms. Heather Tanner and Ms. Yolander Smith.
Among the many benefits of being a Top Jags are, encouragement from both the coordinators and peers, many networking opportunities, scholarships, career preparation, community involvement and advocacy. There are many professional development workshops offered, such as the career fair workshop made available every semester where Ms. Yolander Smith a top Jag coordinator but also a career development expert, review resumes and provide helpful tips on professionalism.
This program takes great pride in helping student in career advancement. In fact, this program provides students with many internship opportunities and a chance to network and to develop a strong leadership and professional status. Raelyn Henderson, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a member of the Top JAGS leadership team Explains: “I have had an overall good experience in Top JAGS. They are great in advocacy and letting you know about opportunities applicable to you”.
This group encourages students to enroll in programs such as the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP), in which numerous Top JAGS have participated during this past summer. There is an emphasis on the many opportunities available for students and there is also help being provided on finding them. One of which being the book voucher/scholarship program that provides students meeting the necessary requirements with financial assistance with their textbooks.
The Top Jags have been on the southern university campus for four years now and continues to expand and finds new ways to help students.