I AM S.T.E.M: “It means that there is a place for me in a S.T.E.M. field. I am worthy and capable.” -Matthew Gayle
Twenty-two students and four faculty from UGA’s College of Engineering attended the 49th Annual Convention for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) this past March in Kansas City, Missouri. This year’s theme is “I AM S.T.E.M.,” centered on professional success, tech in the future, engaging the next generation, and managing wellness. The Annual Convention included competitions, a career fair, networking, celebrations, and organization business. Highlights from the convention included a Golden Torch Awards Ceremony that incorporated a gospel segment, and honored major scholarships, awards, and the announcement of new leaders.
For several students, this was their first time attending a NSBE conference. Jalen Edusei is a first-year student in Computer Systems Engineering, and reflected this year’s conference theme, “this means that I am independent and smart and that I am taking the right steps for a good future.” Toluwani Biobaku is in her third year in Computer Science, and described what the theme meant to her, “I am more than just a computer science student. It means I am part of a large team, and I don’t have to feel like I am on my own.” Ellen Gebreyohannes is in her third year in Statistics and highly recommended the experience, “Being in an environment full of highly driven black individuals was very inspiring. I would 100% recommend the NSBE Convention.”
Chloe-Nicole Sullivan serves as the Pre-Collegiate Initiative Chair for UGA’s NSBE Chapter and said “I AM S.T.E.M. means to me that us, young black Americans came together from different universities across the nation with the same cause to create, build, and innovate the world around us. The world is S.T.E.M. We are the future. We are S.T.E.M.” Briana Bradley, UGA’s NSBE Chapter Membership Chair and student in Computer Science, said, “For years black and minority youth have often been left out of the S.T.E.M. conversation despite our many contributions to it. That’s why conferences like these are important to show us that we are the movement and progression of S.T.E.M.” Matthew Gayle, Student Senator for UGA’s NSBE Chapter, said “It means that there is a place for me in a S.T.E.M. field. I am worthy and capable.” He also said that he appreciated the genuine care of the recruiters at the career fair session and would highly recommend the NSBE conferences. Matthew attended the Regional Conference this last fall and said the Convention was larger and had more networking opportunities.
Taiwo Feyijimi is a graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering and this was his first time attending a NSBE National Convention. He said that this year’s theme meant a lot to him, “It makes me understand and equipped me with the realization that S.T.E.M. is embedded in my DNA as a black engineer, and that I should see myself so.” Taiwo said that he found the conference so inspiring that he is now recommending NSBE to his fellow graduate student colleagues. Fabian Zowam, graduate student in Geology, said “I thought the industry representation was huge. High school students were there to learn about college opportunities. College students were there to look for jobs. Information about obtaining professional engineering licenses (FE, PE) was also available… I believe 50% of the college student attendees either copped a job on the spot or got good leads with the potential of leading to one!”
Sarah Sileshi, the UGA NSBE Chapter’s Student President, and forth-year student in Computer Systems Engineering said, “I enjoyed meeting students who lived on the other side of the country yet were on the same path as me. We were able to connect on academic and social aspects and realized that we had a lot in common. Seeing that you’re not the only one going through your journey was nice to learn. I’d highly recommend students to attend the National Convention. So many of our students gained internships and full-time offers which will allow them to further their career. Those who are interested in being involved in NSBE should make the first step of attending one of our meetings!” Sarah also mentioned, “the National Convention was on an extremely larger scale than the Regional Conference. There were over 300 companies at the Career Fair which allowed me to talk to groups that I wouldn’t think were connected to my field. There were 10,000+ attendees so I was able to learn just how large NSBE is throughout the country.”
Ibukunoluwa Banjo is a Senator for the UGA’s NSBE Chapter, and said “Because I am a senator, I had the opportunity to attend both Regional and National elections. As Senator, I am a representative for our Chapter in this manner. I would recommend and encourage students in the future to run for both regional and national positions so they can represent our school on that level.”
Dr. Racheida Lewis, Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said that she strongly recommends the NSBE Conferences to other faculty, “I always recommend faculty (especially non-Black faculty) to participate in minority-serving conferences. NSBE has a particular je nais sais quoi that can only be described upon experiencing it first-hand. Everyone who attends a NSBE annual convention is quite shocked at its grandeur and reinforces the support for its mission for participants and allies.” Dr. Lewis said the convention also provides professional opportunities for students who can attend, including networking with recruiters at the career fair and learning more about a wide range of companies looking to employ future engineers and scientists. When asked if she discovered anything new about herself at this year’s convention, Dr. Lewis said, “Going to conferences always revitalizes my energy and love for NSBE. This year reenergized my passion as a professor and my ability to leverage the connections I have made in NSBE over the years to support our students outside of the classroom. I really hope those connections pay off in tangible ways… I am reminded of my calling as a professor… and to continue to support our students in whatever capacity I can.”
The National Society of Black Engineers was founded in 1975 with the goal to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and make a positive impact on the community. The University of Georgia’s NSBE Chapter was chartered in 2012. The UGA NSBE Chapter meets regularly throughout the semester and can be found on Instagram @nsbeuga. Anyone in a STEM major is welcome to join. To learn more, watch NSBE UGA’s video promo: https://youtu.be/zfN5uBh64vQ