“Always go for it and don’t shy away from your goals.” This is the motto of Keyshawn Phelps ’11, who recently reconnected with Link. Keyshawn graduated from University High School (2015) and, this past spring, graduated from Virginia State University (2019) with a degree in mechanical engineering. Currently, Keyshawn works as a systems engineer for Northrop Grumman in Melbourne, Florida and will begin to pursue a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Florida Tech in January 2020. He landed his job by “going for it” – pitching himself to a Northrop Grumman executive during a chance encounter on an elevator at a networking conference. Whether it be breaking into the engineering field where only 4.1% of degree earners are African American (ASEE, 2017), or landing a job with one of the biggest government contractors in America, one would be correct in saying that Keyshawn has taken his own advice and “gone for it.”
Keyshawn discovered his passion for engineering in the sixth grade through his participation in an after school robotics club and decided he wanted a career in the engineering field. He put in the hours, both inside the classroom studying and outside of it networking, to make his dream a reality.
In addition to his tremendous work ethic and opportunistic outlook, Keyshawn largely attributes his success to his education, saying “education is everything.” The cornerstone of Keyshawn’s education was laid during his time at Link as he states, “Link showed me the way to be successful in education; it showed me the blueprint.” In addition to providing a solid educational foundation, Link also helped Keyshawn learn the importance of giving back. Keyshawn recalls that at Link the teachers and staff always went the extra mile and created a school climate where kids were constantly challenged and rewarded for their efforts and successes. In particular, Mr. Michael Wilson ’94, Link’s former basketball coach and also a Link alumnus, impacted Keyshawn’s life. Mr. Wilson became Keyshawn’s mentor during his time at Link and the two remain in contact – talking on a daily basis. In addition to Mr. Wilson, Keyshawn’s mom has also played a huge role in his life. She has showed him firsthand what hard work and dedication look like day in and day out. Keyshawn has himself gone the extra mile to give back to the community, founding the “Just Want to Inspire” scholarship, which gives two Newark residents (one male and one female) $500 each for their college education.
Link could not be more proud of Keyshawn and his achievements. We hope that Keyshawn continues to inspire others and that you follow his words of advice to “never give up.”