Engineering professor awarded 2024 Mike MacCarthy Mentorship Award

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Three people standing in front of a colorful stained-glass background. The woman in the middle is a holding a plaque that reads 'Mike MacCarthy Mentorship Award presented to Makhin Thitsa, April 16, 2024.'
Dr. Makhin Thitsa (center) received the 2024 Mike MacCarthy Mentorship Award during the annual student recognition banquet held by the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships. She is pictured with the office's director of national fellowships and scholarships, Dr. David Davis (left) and coordinator of fellowships and scholarships, Johna Wright.

MACON — Mercer University Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Dr. Makhin Thitsa has been awarded the Mike MacCarthy Mentorship Award for her unwavering dedication to “enabling the dreams of others” through mentoring and guiding undergraduate students throughout their educational journey.

She received the award during the annual student recognition banquet held by the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships.

Dr. David Davis, director of the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships, said mentorship is a special relationship between students and teachers. “It requires commitment, time and care, and it can have a profoundly transformative effect on both the student and the teacher,” said Dr. Davis. “Dr. Thitsa has an extraordinary track record of developing mentees. She identifies interested students, helps them develop their skills and works with them as collaborators.”

He described Dr. Thitsa’s students’ accomplishments as “amazing,” adding that they have led to numerous publications, several Goldwater scholarships and admission to the nation’s most prestigious graduate programs. 

“The students who have worked with Dr. Thitsa, however, consistently claim that the most important outcome of their mentorship is the relationships they establish,” said Dr. Davis.

Maison Clouatre, a former student of Dr. Thitsa who was awarded the Goldwater scholarship and is now studying at MIT, said Dr. Thitsa has mentored numerous Goldwater Scholars and sent students to the nation’s most elite graduate schools. “This success is no coincidence but rather a direct consequence of the intentional, caring and omnipresent guidance that she provides.”

Dr. Thitsa said the Mercer community is set up in a way that is perfect for one-on-one mentorship.

“The institutional support of undergraduate research, collegiality among faculty, and excellent faculty-student ratio all contribute to building a perfect environment for undergraduate researchers,” said Dr. Thitsa. “I have been incredibly fortunate that extremely talented and hardworking students decided to join my lab and allow me to be their mentor. That is a true privilege.” 

Dr. Thitsa received her B.S. in electrical engineering in 2005, her M.S in electrical engineering in 2008 and her Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering in 2011, all from Old Dominion University. She joined the Mercer faculty as an assistant professor of engineering in 2013.

The Mike MacCarthy Mentorship Award is named for the late Dr. Michael MacCarthy, associate professor of environmental and civil engineering and director of the engineering for development program. He died in 2021.