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Ms President, Mam…

Many don’t know this but I am the first Org Asli reporter to serve an English newspaper. This coming Monday, I’m going to interview one of the only two African American females to study at MIT in the 60s.

Prof Dr Shirley Ann Jackson was the first African American female to receive a doctorate in Theoretical Solid State Physics from MIT in 1973. She’s also the first woman to be the president of any American research university – she became Rensselaer’s Polytechnic Institute president in 1999. She and her Rensselaer delegations are here in KL for the next few days. Which is why I’m interviewing her.

It’s really nerve-wrecking. I’m not normally at the office on a weekend but I decided to come to the office just to read up a bit about her to prepare for Monday. She looks like a nice lady and I hope she’s as nice as her pictures make her look. Condolezza Rice looks fierce and I’d be quite intimidated to interview her.

I consulted my boss yesterday and got a few tips on what to ask Dr Jackson. Boss wants a nice personality article on her. Apart from physics, Dr Jackson is passionate about the minorities and motivating them to excel. Since she’s African American and was discriminated against when she was a student at MIT, boss thought I should ask Dr Jackson her views about affirmative actions.

I found the below definition of affirmative action from

Affirmative action is a set of positive steps that employers use to promote equal employment opportunity and to eliminate discrimination. It includes expanded outreach, recruitment, mentoring, training, management development and other programs designed to help employers hire, retain and advance qualified workers from diverse backgrounds, including persons with disabilities. Affirmative action means inclusion, not exclusion. Affirmative action does not mean quotas and is not mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Boss also suggested that I ask Dr J what fuels her to succeed. Is it her family? Is it growing up as a female African American? Is is the horrible racism she faced as a student in a predominantly white MIT?

Although I’m nervous about the interview, I’m quite excited to meet face-to-face with someone so distinguished and so inspirational. Let’s just hope she will be as excited to share her experiences with me as I am about knowing more about her…Insya-allah…

Read more about Dr Jackson here




Suziemclean is a Piscean who can't swim. She is 40 and married to a wonderful (younger) man who makes her laugh, and finds her corny sense of humour "endearing". She lives with her husband, family and cat in Shah Alam.

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