Profiles / Rising S.T.E.M. Stars

Jocylen Graves


Do You Know Her?

By Tristen Graves

Jocylen Graves, engineer hopeful and piano extraordinaire. Graves is a third year at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. She is currently majoring in Engineering Science with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering. On the side she shares her talent and love for music as the piano player at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Charlottesville, VA.

With dreams of one day working for a top company such as Ford, Exxon Mobile, or Rolls-Royce, Graves takes on her intense workload in pursuit of her degree from the university in hopes of becoming a professional engineer.
“I enjoy math and decided to go into engineering while in high school after taking courses such as basic CADD (Computer aided design and drafting),” Graves said. “I enjoy hands-on projects the most.”

Graves, native of Louisa County, VA, graduated with honors from Louisa County High School in 2008. During the summer of 2004 she participated in the Richmond Area Program for Minorities in Engineering (RAPME) located at the Virginia Commonwealth University. The program granted a first-hand look into the profession of engineering and the opportunities available for minority students.

“We were able to complete two projects. We built a solar car and designed a doorbell by learning how to use circuits.” Graves said.  “I enjoyed the experience; the program introduced me to the engineering field.”

As a student at UVA she has taken interest in a major that has allowed for flexibility and the opportunity to design a program of study that appeals to her special academic interest.

“My first project in the engineering school was working in a lab, creating ethanol from tree leaves. It was a fun, learning experience and I was able to realize that there are many factors that can cause error in a project and not everything turns out like it’s supposed to,” Graves said.

Despite countless hours spent in the library, labs and study hall, Graves finds time to turn to her first love, playing the piano. She began playing at the age of 8 and since then she has played in numerous recitals, family functions and church engagements, including going home every fifth Sunday to play for the youth choir of Mt. Hope Baptist Church, her home church.

“I enjoy playing the piano because it is relaxing and I enjoy being able to inspire others through my music,” Graves said, who’s style is centered primarily around gospel and classical music.

Aside from playing the piano, Graves is an active member of National Society of Black Engineers chapter at UVA (NSBE) in which she was the historian and also sings with the Black Voices gospel choir. She can also be seen supporting her “Wahoo” family at various sporting events and programs on campus.

Despite not knowing exactly where she will be upon graduation, Graves has made it her mission to diligently pursue the goals she has set out for herself. She shares the importance of enjoying this time in her life and has embraced the theory of life learning.

Brief Bio:

Name: Jocylen Ariel Graves
D.O.B: December 2, 1989
Hometown: Louisa County, Virginia
Education:  The University of Virginia: 2008-2011
Louisa County High School: 2008
Memberships: NSBE member 2009-present
RAPME participant: 2004

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