My dad never took out a mortgage.  Every house we’d ever lived in had been built from scratch.  Just imagine it, using your talents to literally create something out of nothing?

My name is Abdullah Jeffers, and this is my Crystal Stair.

My father taught me the importance of project management and development which begged the question:

How do you use your mind? My answer?  Science.  Who would have thought this black kid from Philly would grow to be a Chemical Engineer?


It’s hard to explain what success is as a chemical engineer to someone who isn’t a chemical engineer.  I think every day I wake up and am able to tackle these engineering issues, is a success.  The fact that I am surviving and motivated in my engineering program at Howard University, is a success.  The one thing I always reminded myself was that “You can’t give up on yourself”. You may not always have the support of your friends or peers, so you have to be your biggest, most unwavering supporter.  Coming from the streets of Philly, many young men that look like me don’t grow up having aspirations or goals, let alone the support to help them get there.  So, again, how do you use your mind to change your environment and your mentality to recondition yourself to think only in terms of success?

I attribute my view of the world to my homeschooling, which I attended in middle school.  It’s often assumed that homeschooled kids don’t develop the same social relationships that other kids when they are surrounded by their peers.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  I was always surrounded by adults, which allowed me to be given a certain level of responsibility that I probably wouldn’t have been given if I was surrounded by other kids; I was glad not to have those same distractions to deal with.

Once I transitioned into high school, however, it did become a challenge.  I will fully admit that I was a bad kid with good grades.  By the time I was a junior, I’d attended three different high schools before I started getting my act together.  I realized college was right around the corner, and if I was going to make something of myself, then I’d need to start now.

My Future

After arriving on Howard University’s campus, I was finally given the opportunity to put all of my ideas towards a Chemical Engineering degree.  I want to work on creating sustainable ways for desalinating water and be able to fully utilize renewable energy resources.  I want to use these new advances to design super batteries and rugged materials for long-distance travel in extreme conditions.

Ultimately, I want to help disenfranchised youth from my community unlock their scientific potential to see the opportunities that STEM careers present.  I believe that we are approaching a future where altruistic mindsets are at an advantage and I plan to be at the forefront of that change.