$30,000 grant from CenterPoint Energy will help launch Coding Academy to shape future

August 23, 2021

by Jackson State University, August 23, 2021

Jackson State University President Thomas K. Hudson welcomes CenterPoint Energy, Mississippi legislators and other stakeholders to celebrate new opportunities for innovation. (Photo by William H. Kelly III/JSU)

CenterPoint Energy recently donated $30,000 to Jackson State University to help launch a Coding Academy targeting freshmen.

JSU President Thomas K. Hudson described coding as the future of technology.

“The Coding Academy will be very exciting, and we’re happy that CenterPoint is investing in the university. You have to be innovative, and our College of Science, Engineering and Technology has always been at the forefront of innovation. The Coding Academy will be a great addition for positioning us further,” Hudson said.

Hudson added, “CenterPoint’s involvement also shows the power of having JSU graduates in all spaces such as CenterPoint and the Mississippi Legislature.”

Hudson joins JSU alum Kimberly Blasingame, director of HR and Diversity and Inclusion and Talent Acquisition at CenterPoint Energy, and Dr. Ramzi M. Kafoury, associate professor of biology in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, in a discussion about technology advances. (Photo by William H. Kelly III/JSU)

Hudson joins JSU alum Kimberly Blasingame, director of HR and Diversity and Inclusion and Talent Acquisition at CenterPoint Energy, and Dr. Ramzi M. Kafoury, associate professor of biology in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, in a discussion about technology advances. (Photo by William H. Kelly III/JSU)

In fact, JSU alum Kimberly Blasingame is director of HR and Diversity and Inclusion and Talent Acquisition at CenterPoint Energy.

Because of influential people such as Blasingame who work for major corporations, Hudson said, “Lawmakers see this type of private investment in the university, and it helps them perform their jobs in terms of asking for more state and federal investments.”

Meanwhile, Blasingame said, “With help of the CenterPoint Foundation, I hope this opportunity to start a Coding Academy at Jackson State will result in a fruitful relationship over the next coming years.” Interestingly, she and her family understand the importance of building a lasting connection. They’ve already established the Wash Family Endowed Scholarship at JSU.

Blasingame said she aims to further leverage her influence by hiring students to work in CenterPoint’s Mississippi and corporate offices. “We provide grants for education, community vitality and workforce planning. At JSU, we saw an opportunity to support an educational effort with the coding program.” Further emphasizing that the company is committed to all communities, she said jobs are also available for those who opted not to attend college.

Jay Bruce Reber is the district director for Gas Operations for CenterPoint Energy in Mississippi. He’s responsible for all the field operations and employees in the state – individuals who “maintain and operate a safe gas system and maintain relationships within our communities.”

Reber also said, “Jackson State is certainly a part of our community. We want to recruit future engineers as well as individuals with experience in plant operations.”

Dr. Ramzi M. Kafoury, associate professor of biology in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, said, “The Coding Academy is a great opportunity for us. The skillset, the know-how and logic gained through coding will be very important for our students.”

Kafoury said JSU especially wants to prepare them to become effective in the workplace. “Then, they can become agents of change. And, with the academy, we can bridge the gap between theoretical and application.”

Hudson discusses topics related to JSU with Brad Ferguson, the Central Mississippi field representative for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. (Photo by William H. Kelly III/JSU)