Johntae Jeffries Builds Community at Mercer

Says ‘Thank You Is Not Enough’


West Windsor, N.J. – Johntae Jeffries’ journey at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) began in 2015 when he was just 15 years old. While still attending high school at Mercer County Technical Schools’ Health Science Academy, he enrolled in college courses. As a result, his MCCC story is longer than most and is laden with special meaning.

“The time I have spent at Mercer has been filled with so many people and experiences. In fact, I have never taken a course with the same professor twice,” Jeffries observed. “My best moments have been when I got to create and share with others and build relationships that last.”

One extracurricular activity that stands out is Jefferies’ participation in the creation of a YouTube channel for one of his favorite professors, Kyle Anderson (Mathematics). “I got the honor of using my love for art to create art for his YouTube channel, BlackTshirtMathProfessor. Extending my creativity through my relationships and community is exactly what I love to do,” he said.

Jeffries, who resides in Trenton, is in his final semester at Mercer, majoring in Mathematics, with a near perfect GPA. He has big goals for the future, including transferring to a top school to study medicine. “I hope to become a primary care physician with my own practice,” he said. “I would also like to take part in research programs so that I can contribute to the development of the scientific community.”

During his Mercer years, Jeffries has faced some outsized challenges. In addition to ongoing financial struggles, he lost his brother to gun violence. While continuing to attend school, he was processing his grief, attending court trials, and maintaining extracurriculars, all to honor his brother’s memory.

The Covid-19 shutdown complicated life even further. “It put a halt to keeping a job and staying as close to family when times got tough,” he recalled. Facing significant debt and emotional strain, Jeffries remembers a feeling of hopelessness. “It made attending school feel like a chapter at the end of my book.”

But Jeffries refused to be derailed. “With the dedication and time I was willing to put in, I was back in school within the year,” he said.

Jeffries notes that his return to MCCC this semester was made possible by the Mel Zucker Memorial Scholarship, awarded to a continuing Mercer student enrolled in Math, Physics or Engineering. He vividly recalls opening the award email on his phone just as he was completing a ten-hour shift in the facility where he works as a baker. “When I saw the amount, my jaw hit the floor. The scholarship gave me the opportunity to complete my last semester and the ultra-boost to get me set on my career path,” he maintained.

The scholarship also validated all of Jeffries’ hard work thus far. “To know that a donor understands and recognizes what I have been working for, it’s enough to get you emotional. Thank you is not enough,” he said.

And, since receiving the scholarship, Jeffries is more determined than ever. “What isn’t easy to express is the drive and motivation that receiving the scholarship has instilled in me. Since this award, I have applied myself in so many ways to my community and my academics,” he said.

Jeffries encourages current students to use what Mercer has to offer. “I know it sounds weird, but if you’re paying for a pizza, you don’t just eat the cheese, right? Talk to faculty, talk to students, make friends, and build a community,” he advised. “I promise you will be surprised with what you find you can do.”


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Mathematics student Johntae Jeffries completes his final semester this fall.