By: MSU Office of Public Affairs. Submitted photo.

A group of Mississippi State students recently brought home top honors at TechStars Startup Weekend Jackson, an intensive business accelerator program organized by Innovate Mississippi.

Five MSU students pitched a social networking platform to connect international students on college campuses so that more experienced students can help and mentor freshmen, all while creating a digital network for mutual support. The first-place winning team members include, from left, Ahmed Al-Nakhif, a senior computer science major from Yemen; Zaheed Qasem, a senior software engineering major from Yemen; Muammar Saeed, a senior computer engineering major from Yemen; Cyrus Nejat, an aerospace engineering doctoral student from Los Angeles, California; and Abdulaziz Yafai, a senior software engineering major from Ridgeland.

Not pictured, MSU student Rontier Whitfield, a senior fashion, design and merchandising major, was part of a team that received second place honors. Her team developed a fashion line for big and tall toddlers that are not generally provided in standard clothing lines.

Students were encouraged to participate in the event by MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, which helps MSU students, faculty and staff start and grow successful companies.

For more on Startup Weekend Jackson, an event sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority, visit

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