Growing up, I was relatively confident in myself as an intellectual; I was never really insecure. However, when I started my undergraduate degree in engineering, I began to have some insecurities. While some stemmed from the general transition from high school to college, others came from being the only minority, and the only woman in most of my classes. I had never known what it meant to fail so I really didn’t understand why I wasn’t doing as well as I should have been. When my white, male counterparts failed, it was because they did not study. When I failed, I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t good enough. I even thought I received my internship because I was black. It didn’t help that all the other interns – all white – did not reach out to me. The experience was overall a great one (blame it on great coworkers), but I still did not feel deserving of an engineering degree.
Fast forward to junior year and a friend asked me to join an organization with him. I remembered thinking, this is exactly what I need. The National Society of Black Engineers. I joined and never looked back.
NSBE is a student-run national organization who’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positivity impact the community. With over 16,000 active members, it services its membership through academic and professional support at the primary, secondary and post-secondary education levels, as well as, for professionals in both industry and academia. One of their most recent campaign is to graduate 10,000 Black Engineers with bachelors degrees annually by the year 2025, while #BlackSTEMLikeMe looks to highlight African American contributions in STEM.
Last week I attended my fourth national convention and celebrated four years in the organization. I presented my preliminary research for my thesis in a poster and oral competition, recruited for my institution and department, attended alumni events for my undergraduate chapter and absorbed information from seminars on leadership, branding and entrepreneurship. I networked with other professionals and student members, and I enjoyed myself.
Every year NSBE Convention reminds me why I love engineering and what it means to be an engineer. Support in engineering is important. Fellowship for underrepresented minorities is important. NSBE taught me what it means to truly build as you grow, and I am forever appreciative of its effect in my life.
#NSBEluv #NSBE43 #BlackSTEMLikeMe