Baton Rouge, La. – Recent Southern University graduate and Baton Rouge native Kalaia Tripeaux has been accepted into Pennsylvania State University to pursue a Master’s degree in Urban Forestry.
“When I opened my official acceptance letter from Penn State University, I was extremely excited and relieved,” said Tripeaux. “Being accepted into Penn State was not only an exhilarating feeling for me but it was also a proud moment for my family, friends, and mentees who have all been with me along the interesting journey through my matriculation at Southern University,” expressed Kalaia.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have been goal oriented, strong minded, and determined to accomplish all of my dreams and aspirations,” she added.
This determination and drive was evident throughout her college career where she consistently ranked at the top of the urban forestry student body.
She has presented research papers at national conferences and demonstrated her academic excellence through her course works, internships, scholarships, international study, and professional services.
Her efforts have resulted in many honors and awards, including being named the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) All-Star, U.S. Department of Agriculture 1890 Institution Scholar, Society of American Foresters Diversity Ambassador, Southern University International Research Experience Global Scholar, and Auburn University Graduate Diversity Campus Experience Program Scholar.
During Southern University’s Spring 2018 Commencement Exercise on May 11, in which she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Forestry, Kalaia earned the title of student marshal – the student graduating with the highest grade point average – for the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.
“Kalaia is a young lady who does not settle for business as usual, she goes the extra miles to be a leader. She has made us proud and she represents the quality of the students whom we have mentored and nurtured at Southern University,” said Zhu Ning, Ph.D., an Endowed Professor at Southern University. “I whole-heartedly recommended Kalaia to Penn State University, where she will work under my collaborator professor Bill Elmendorf with a graduate assistantship of $40,800 annually,” added Ning.
Tripeaux was recruited into the Urban Forestry undergraduate program at Southern University in the Fall of 2014 by then Urban Forestry professors Andra Johnson, Ph.D., and Ning through the Beginning Agriculture Youth Unlimited (BAYOU) Program, with Dr. Johnson’s outstanding ability in attracting new students, and Ning’s externally funded projects providing students with research stipends.
“It has been one of the great joys of my life to watch Kalaia grow and develop into the leader she has become,” said Johnson, who is currently the Vice Chancellor for Research at the Southern University Ag Center. “Her commitment and dedication to her studies, peers, family, and community are a testament to a truly remarkable young lady,” added Johnson, who is also a proud alumni of both Southern University and Penn State University.
“Congratulations to Ms. Kalaia Tripeaux and her mentors for not only mentoring Kalaia through undergraduate school, but paving the way for her to continue on into graduate school,” remarked Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., Chancellor of the Southern University Ag Center and Dean of the SU College of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences.
“My advice for students around the world is to never give up on living your dreams. This means not only wishing and praying but putting in the work that it takes in order to actually achieve your dreams and goals. Try new and different things,” said Kalaia. “Who would have ever thought a city girl like me would major in Urban Forestry? Well, I just remained my authentic self and never changed for anyone while incorporating my academic and professional skills needed in my field,” she said.
As for her future academic plans, Kalaia says she will obtain a Masters in Human Dimensions and Natural Resources then pursue a doctorate in another area of agricultural sciences to gain more knowledge about environmental policies. She ultimately plans to gain employment with the U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“Even though I have found a new home at Penn State, Southern University will always be my foundation and I am a proud alumni,” said Kalaia. “If you believe in your dreams, you can achieve them. Live your best life and make your dreams a reality,” she added.
For more information, please contact Miss Kalaia Tripeaux’s Academic Adviser Zhu Ning at firstname.lastname@example.org.