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Goodnight Spotlight: Kody Jefferson

Portrait photo of NC State Goodnight Scholar Kody Jefferson of the class of 2021 at the Hunt Library on Centennial Campus.

“Busy” is often the word of the day for Belhaven native and Goodnight Scholar Kody Jefferson ’21. However, those busy days are spent enriching himself in what he loves: mechanical engineering, robotics, and the Goodnight Scholars Program.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kody Jefferson ’21: I am a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from a very rural town called Belhaven. How rural? I have to drive 40 minutes from home to find a Walmart. Being from such a rural place has been deeply rooted in my upbringing. At home, we hunt whitetail deer and wild turkey, and also have a substantial garden. Living off of the land is a way of life, and one I see myself continuing in my future wherever it may take me. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, I am an avid tinkerer and am passionate about technology. Robotics is an area I am particularly interested in, and hope to be able to incorporate into my career. At NC State, I am the mechanical lead for the Underwater Robotics team. During my time there, I have worked on multiple robots and even gotten to design and manufacture one from the ground up!

If you had to summarize your personality in one sentence, what would it say?

I am analytical and deliberate, taking time to consider every scenario and outcome and only speaking or acting if I truly mean something while remaining level-headed and relaxed, even in tense situations.

How would you describe your life as an NC State student thus far?

To put it simply, I would describe my life at NC State as busy and enriching. I attend workshops and seminars, and have worked on multiple entrepreneurial projects and design challenges. There is not a day in the week where I do not have something going on, but through my involvement, my time at NC State has been enriched beyond belief. I have gotten to work with technology I could only have ever dreamed of. I have tasted the cuisines of cultures from around the world. I have had numerous incredible opportunities that I would have never experienced had I not been at NC State, and all of these things have led me to a life that feels fulfilled.

Tell us about an accomplishment at NC State that fills you with pride.

I am a first-generation college student, so just being able to attend NC State fills me and my family with pride. If it is an accomplishment during my time at NC State, I would have trouble choosing between designing and developing a working robot or working hard to achieve a high enough GPA to enroll in the accelerated Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering program. Looking back over both of these accomplishments fill me with pride because it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when challenge presents itself and the going gets tough, but with perseverance and determination, you can push through and experience the rewards of your hard work.

Portrait photo of NC State Goodnight Scholar Kody Jefferson of the class of 2021 outside of the Hunt Library on Centennial Campus.

Tell us about your time in the Goodnight Scholars Program.

My time in the Goodnight Scholars Program has awarded me the opportunity to experience incredible moments and forge life-long friendships. During my time as a Goodnight Scholar, I have taught STEM to middle school students on our North Carolina Mountains to Coast trip. I have overseen the planning and execution of multiple LEGO Brick Builds. I have expanded my professional network through the Goodnight Fellows Program. I have given numerous presentations, both on campus and off, for both the Goodnight Scholars Program and NC State as a Goodnight Ambassador. There are countless other moments that have had a lasting impact on me, each just as enriching as the last. I can confidently say that part of who I am today is a direct result of my time in the Goodnight Scholars Program and the lasting impact of the amazing community that calls it home.

Where do you picture yourself after graduation?

After graduation I plan on obtaining a master’s degree in mechanical engineering through NC State’s accelerated Bachelors-Masters program. Once I have accomplished that, I foresee myself starting a career at an engineering firm. Later on, I plan to take the PE exam and becoming a certified engineer with the goal to eventually start my own engineering firm.

What would be your biggest piece of advice to a potential Goodnight Scholar or incoming Goodnight Scholar? 

There are countless opportunities for experiences, learning, and growth both in the Goodnight Scholars Program and at NC State. Use your time wisely to make the most out of the opportunities you get. Don’t try to do everything at once and get burned out, but also try to do as much as you reasonably can. Never pass up the opportunity to stop and deliberately connect with people. Make lasting relationships and expand your network of friends — you never know when you may need help or when someone in need may be waiting for the right person to help them. Pay it forward wherever you can and strive to embody the ideals of the Goodnight Scholars community. Doing so will have earned you an incredibly enriched college experience, but even if you can’t quite do that, so long as you try you will have make lasting relationships and unforgettable memories along the way.

Photography credit: Josh Guter/Goodnight Scholars Program

This post was originally published in Goodnight Scholars Program.