Dr. Mebougna Laze Drabo grew up in Togo, West Africa and attended International School of Lome. As an award recipient in math and physics throughout his high school years, Mebougna decided to come to America to continue his studies in Engineering Science. He would begin his educational pursuit at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.
“When I first came to the United States and started my education at FM, I made many American friends who taught me so much; they showed me the great giving nature of America and the people who live here. They made me feel at home. At my lowest times, my new friends helped and encouraged me back on my feet. I am also truly grateful for their help to obtain all the accomplishments that I have today. Those who are fortunate enough to live in America should not take that privilege for granted,” says Mebougna.
Mebougna says he is also fortunate to have encountered wonderful professors while at FM. “I would like to thank my chemistry professor Dr. Jane Slezak, my engineering sciences professor Dr. Varghese Pynadath, my math professor Dr. Marlene Glaser (now retired), and Director of International Students Mrs. Arlene Spencer. I find it hard to fully express my gratitude to them in words. They were excellent teachers, a great source of inspiration and support, and always available to offer me their good advice. Without these individuals, I don’t think I would be where I am today,” says Mebougna.
After graduating from FM, Mebougna earned both a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University at Buffalo. He went on to earn a second Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, graduating with a 4.0 grade average, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University at Alabama, again graduating with a 4.0, this past May 2011.
“When I left FM, I always wanted to graduate with the highest degree and I believe I have accomplished that. Now I truly desire to become a Mechanical Researcher or a professor,” he says. Mebougna’s interests range from alternative fuels to thermodynamics. He presently has a patent in progress for a hot-wire fuel volatility sensor.
As someone who has come a long way to achieve his educational goals, both physically and literally, Mebougna advises current students to learn as much as they can from their professors and fellow students. He says creating bonds and working as a team makes you a better individual. “In this world, engineers are faced with design problems every day. It has proven that a team approach is the best, as well as the most efficient, method to use. When I first came to the United States I had the opportunity to work with different people that were unfamiliar with each other. I became close with students, faculty, and people from all cultures. America is known as the cultural melting pot and I have benefitted greatly from all those I have met. I encourage everyone to get to know new people, no matter what their heritage, as it may have a significant influence on your path in life.”
November 14 – 20 is International Education Week, an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “SUNY currently enrolls nearly 20,000 international students statewide. Governor Cuomo’s proclamation of International Education Week and SUNY’s vast participation in College Week Live are a sign to prospective students worldwide that New York State and SUNY are deeply committed to providing them with a higher education that is second to none.”