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Two Alcorn students participate in Coca-Cola’s annual ‘Pay It Forward’ program



Adeboye Aladekoba and Kaziah Robinson (Photos courtesy Alcorn State University)

Two Alcorn State University students are preparing for a two-day program that will equip them for the future.

Adeboye Aladekoba, a junior computer science major from Lagos, Nigeria, and Kaziah Robinson, a senior biology pre-medicine major from Bastrop, Louisiana, will participate in the virtual 2020 Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. “Pay It Forward” program Tuesday, Aug. 4, and Wednesday, Aug. 5.

Russ Hendley, the on-premise sales operation manager for Coca-Cola United in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, applauds the company’s marketing team for providing a way for the program to go on.

“We truly believe in this program, and I am so thankful for our marketing team and their efforts in putting together this virtual experience for our students,” said Hendley.

The purpose of the program is to empower HBCU students and introduce them to real-world experiences while providing them successful techniques for the future. Coca-Cola officials will serve as mentors to the students by giving them information that would improve their business acumen as well as their knowledge in operations management, packaging, pricing, event planning and so much more. Also, students can use the opportunity to pursue careers with Coca-Cola in the future.

Two students from HBCU will spend virtual time with leaders across Coca-Cola and learn how different departments conduct business. A $1,000 stipend will be awarded to each student at the end of the program, as well as a lifetime of Coca-Cola brand ambassadorship.

Getting accepted into the program seemed too good to be true for Aladekoba. Once he got the official statement of his acceptance, he began to anticipate taking advantage of the opportunity.

“I was overwhelmed,” he said. “I remember getting the phone call to tell me I got the internship. I didn’t want to believe it until I saw the official email the next day. I am looking to improve myself professionally and also connect with senior leaders and like-minded students.”

With so much uncertainty of where opportunities lie, Robinson is thankful to have found an enriching internship amid the pandemic.

“I am grateful to receive this internship, especially during these unprecedented times,” she said. “I’m most looking forward to learning about the manufacturing processes and potential career opportunities that I can take advantage of after graduation.”

Participating in the program is a way for Aladekoba to engage with seasoned professionals about the path to success.

“This is a chance for me to make new connections,” he said. “It would also allow me to hear from experienced professionals and their pathway to success, which would be beneficial to me.”

As an aspiring future owner of a medical practice, Robinson’s objective for the program is to learn the necessary tools to achieve her career goal.

“Learning the manufacturing and marketing process can give me insight and strategies for my medical practice that I plan to pursue,” she said.

Both students are proud to represent their alma mater.

“Never did I believe I would be one of the students selected,” Aladekoba said. “Thank you, Alcorn State University.”

“I am grateful to represent my HBCU on a national platform,” Robinson said.

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