Wells Fargo Announces $100,000 scholarship fund for diverse business owners to attend Tuck School of Business Minority Business Programs.
Wells Fargo’s Scholarship recipients attended Tuck’s Growing the Minority Business to Scale 2017 cohort
Wells Fargo today announced it is extending its investment in diverse business development amounting to over $200,000 impacting 48 diverse businesses in the past two years. The Wells Fargo Scholarship Fund for Diverse Businesses in collaboration with the Tuck School of Business. Funds 24 scholarships per year for the Tuck School of Business Minority Business Programs, certified minority, women, veteran, LGBT and disabled owned business entrepreneurs will be able to attend Tuck.
“We’re proud to continue our work with the Tuck School of Business Minority Business Program,” said Regina O. Heyward, senior vice president and head of Wells Fargo Supplier Diversity. “Diverse-owned businesses create jobs and support families and communities in every small town and big city in the U.S. At Wells Fargo, we’re focused on growing diverse businesses by offering executive training, providing access to capital, and working with external organizations to broaden opportunities that will benefit diverse-owned businesses, which are so vital to our country’s economy.”
Diverse businesses are starting and scaling at an increasing high rate in the U.S. In 2017, Wells Fargo spent $1.27 billion with certified diverse suppliers. Wells Fargo has focused on two strategic areas: growing spend with certified diverse suppliers and working with business development organizations and the community to help build a strong network of diverse suppliers.
Tuck’s Minority Business Program started in 1980 and is the oldest program designed to develop diverse business owners at an academic graduate business school. Since its inception, more than 7,000 business owners have participated in the programs. “Tuck MBE Programs is very excited about this expanded relationship with Wells Fargo that allows us to bring our curriculum, faculty and 37 years of experience developing diverse businesses to even more entrepreneurs from diverse communities from across the county,” said Len Greenhalgh Faculty Director and Professor of Management, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
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Peace Corps launches its first-ever HBCU Barbershop Tour in October with visits to historically black colleges and universities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. The tour officially kicked off on October 2 at Nile Style Barbershop near Morgan State University in Baltimore.
“In the African American community, the barbershop is the cornerstone of politics, religion, sports, culture, networking and professional development,” said Peace Corps Diversity Recruiter Dwayne Matthews (pictured) a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Little Rock, Arkansas and a graduate of HBCU Norfolk State University in Virginia. “This tour is a chance for the Peace Corps to participate in these conversations – to listen, engage and share information about the opportunities available through volunteer service in an organic and familiar setting.”
The tour will feature 10 stops on HBCU campuses and local barbershops that serve the university population and surrounding communities. Each visit will include stakeholder meetings with university and college staff, class talks and information sessions on campus and panel discussions with returned Peace Corps volunteers and university alumni at local barbershops.
Over 30 percent of Peace Corps volunteers self-report as racially or ethnically diverse, following the agency’s efforts to expand outreach to diverse communities across the United States. The HBCU Barbershop Tour is the Peace Corps’ latest effort to expand opportunities for international service and recruit a volunteer corps that shares the rich diversity of America with communities around the world.
Here is the full October tour schedule with dates and locations:
October 2: Morgan State University and Nile Style Barbershop (Maryland)
October 3: Virginia Union University and Mike Blendz (Virginia)
October 9: Bowie State University and Bowie Town Barbers (Maryland)
October 15: Norfolk State University and Kappatal Cuts (Virginia)
October 16: Virginia State University and Real Cutz (Virginia)
October 22: Hampton University and Just Earl Barbershop (Virginia)
October 23: Howard University and Wanda’s on 7th (Washington, D.C.)
October 24: Delaware State University and J Stylez Barbershop (Delaware)
October 29: University of Maryland, Eastern Shore and Wolf Barbershop (Maryland)
October 30: Coppin State University and Phaze Two Barbershop (Maryland)
About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.
DiversityComm, Inc., more than 8,500 attendees, representatives from more than 250 leading Fortune 500 companies, and 45 colleges and universities attended the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) 40th Anniversary Conference and Exposition in Detroit, Michigan, September 25–29.
Formed in 1970 as an initiative to share insight and experiences with Black professionals within the corporate sector, the NBMBAA serves as an influential nationwide organization with a multi-faceted approach to nurturing its members through innovative programs, trainings, partnerships, and career opportunities.
Mona Lisa Faris, president and founder of DiversityComm, Inc., sat down with NBMBAA President and CEO Jesse Tyson and FedEx Staff Vice President of Operations Analysis Donald Comer to learn more about the organizations’ present and future goals, as well as how their personal and professional life experiences have impacted their approach to and influence in leading what has become the premier business organization serving Black professionals.
“We have more than 14,000 members who expect a lot from our organization, so we try to run it using the same business principles as our corporate partners,” Jesse Tyson said. “It’s important that we remain authentic and take great measures to ensure we align with sponsors that share our values. It takes an army of good, dedicated people to pull this event off, and that’s exactly what we have.”
Building and maintaining that dedicated army capable of holding the nonprofit to a high standard has been a priority for both Tyson—who stepped in to lead NBMBAA after a successful 35-year career at ExxonMobil—and Comer, also the NBMBAA Chairman of the Board.
Tyson can distinctly recall growing up in the rural, segregated South with his grandparents, working as a sharecropper to make a living. It was an upbringing that fueled a burning desire to overcome his circumstances and forge a different path for his life.
“I knew it was never a question of if I would get out…it was just a matter of timing,” he said. “I went through what I did knowing the day would come when things would change and I would be able to reposition my family and change the trajectory of where we had been.”
Tyson went on to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), where he caught the attention of a professor that would change the course of the self-professed country boy’s life. Sensing his talent, the professor pushed for him to apply for an internship with the State Department—something Tyson assumed wasn’t his cup of tea.
“He hounded me for three weeks to apply, finally going so far as to fill out the entire application on my behalf without my knowledge,” he said. “When he approached me and said all he needed was a signature, I obliged—mostly so he’d leave me alone!”
Three weeks later, however, Tyson got the surprise of his life when he got a visit from the FBI to conduct a background check. He was quickly accepted into the program, where he spent three months in Washington, D.C., and five months in Dakar, Senegal. The experience, he said, was a turning point, solidifying his love for business and planting leadership seeds that would mature and blossom over the next several decades.
“What I’ve learned, internalized, and applied throughout the years is that it can’t just be about me—to be truly successful, you have to champion a greater cause—that of community,” Tyson said. “If your elevator takes you to the top floor, it’s not just to sightsee—you’ve got to not only send it back down but also utilize that further view to react and avoid potential catastrophe for those in your charge. You’ve got to use your advantage to see the broader causes that will help position you to help others. Helping others is what it’s all about, and it’s why I do what I do.”
For Comer, it has been the professional growth offered through FedEx, a company that thrives on diversity and inclusion, that has contributed to his overall view on what is important for both the business and the employee.
On a day-to-day basis, he leads a team focused on researching and implementing artificial intelligence strategies, machine learning, and big data.
“At FedEx, we believe in the business value of diversity and in the growth of our employees,” he said. “You’ll find that we’re not just on the career floor when we attend this conference; we participate in all of the areas that are focused on those goals that align with our business objectives, from sponsoring the pitch contests to investing in small businesses and hosting e-commerce committees. We also sponsor the IMPACT awards and the Leaders of Tomorrow program. We’re trying to show that diversity isn’t just philanthropic—it’s what drives business.”
Comer attended his first NBMBAA conference in 1997 on behalf of FedEx and hasn’t missed one since. As his participation has grown, so has the company’s involvement, with FedEx presenting its largest booth yet at the Career Expo in addition to their other sponsored events. Since 2016, the company has contributed close to $4.4 million to facilitate helping those needing business assistance in reaching their goals.
“When we attend NBMBAA, we know we’ll have access to the best talent to fulfill our available opportunities, from full-time professional positions to entry-level and even internships,” he said. “The main goal is connecting people to opportunities.”
The annual traditional Business Case Competition, which gives students an opportunity to pitch a business case for a chance to win scholarships, was a highlight of the conference, with both undergraduate and graduate levels represented.
The Scale-Up Pitch Challenge finals—a Shark Tank-style competition for professionals to pitch their innovative and scalable start-up business ideas to a group of judges—sponsored by FedEx Corporation—was also a huge draw.
While the conference exceeded its mission as a business opportunity for its attendees, there was also a human element at play during the week—the desire to help position the next generation to be successful, Tyson said.
“My grandmother often said that life should be lived in three phases: learning, earning, and returning,” Tyson said. “I rose above those circumstances and learned that it can’t just be about me rising above—it has to be about a greater cause, and that cause is my community.”
“We do what we do here because not only because we enjoy it but also because we know our young folks need it. We’re living in a global economy today, and if they’re not ready to think internationally, then they’re going to be behind. That’s why what we do here is important,” he added.
The National Black MBA Association® will hold its 41st Annual Conference and Exposition in Houston, Texas, September 24-28, 2019, with the theme “Transcend the Power of You: Empowered to Lead, Equipped to Succeed.” For more information, visit nbmbaa.org.
About the Author
Jovane Marie is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and freelance journalist. She is also the founder of MUSE Enterprises, which provides brand ambassadorship and event planning services for small businesses. Connect with her via LinkedIn @JovaneMarie.
Students met college recruiters from various institutions and participated in workshops to learn more about college access and affordability.
Hundreds of college-bound high school students joined State Senator Kevin Parker and the National College Resources Foundation (NCRF) for the Annual Black College Expo at Medgar Evers College on Saturday.
“Every year, The Black College Expo aims to create a platform for children of color to learn more about the college admissions process, and to network and gain insight on scholarships,” said Diana Love, director of College Access and New Business Development at NCRF.
During the expo, students met college recruiters to explore their pathways to higher education institutions. Families were able to discuss the college admissions process, scholarship opportunities and what attending a historically black college means to their academic success. Students and parents also had the opportunity to participate in a myriad of workshops from test prep tips for the SAT and ACT to resume writing sessions.
In addition to co-sponsoring the event, Senator Parker afforded a $1,000 scholarship to a student headed to college next year.
“It can be difficult for parents and students to navigate the college admissions process, and this event helps by focusing on both accessibility and affordability students of color,” stated Senator Parker. “I am thankful to the National College Resources Foundation for being such a critical resource for students of color here in New York State and across the country.”
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College students and parents are already looking ahead to the 2019—2020 school year with the FAFSA- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The great news is that the Department of Education just launched “myStudentAid” app to make it easier for students and families to fill out the federal student aid application through their mobile phones.
According to the National College Access Network, only 61 percent of high school students file a FAFSA, leaving more than $24 billion in state, federal and institutional aid on the table. Completion of the FAFSA form is one of the best predictors of whether a high school senior will go on to college, as seniors who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.
For the 2019-2010 school year, the FAFSA filing season opens on October 1st and the sooner students file, the better as some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis or from programs with limited funds.
Furthermore, students should look beyond federal student aid as scholarships are a great way to pay for college, and unlike loans they don’t need to be repaid. But winning scholarships takes time, dedication, intensive research, and hard work, especially on the essays. It’s deadline time for college applications, so it’s important to start the application for free money now!
Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) offers access to 7 million scholarships and $41 billion in financial aid. Start by filling in the registration; then with a click, the site searches to find any scholarships for which you might qualify. The more information you provide about yourself, the more matches TFS can make.
Richard Sorensen suggests these tips when applying for financial aid and scholarships:
Tip No. 1: Apply through FAFSA mobile app
The FAFSA mobile app is very simple to use as it asks one question on each page and after answering the question the student goes to the next page and the next question. The student can leave and return to the app as often as they want so it can be completed in several different sittings over a period of time.
Some students don’t apply because they mistakenly think the FAFSA is only for students with financial aid. That’s not accurate, families should know that income is not the only factor used to determine the financial aid they can get. It also depends on the number of children in a family and how many are enrolled in college at the same time.
Tip No. 2: Follow the steps carefully
Even though the FAFSA mobile app is generally easy to use, pay attention to the signature process, because both parents and dependent students are required to sign before the application can be processed. Never tap to “Start Over” button when including a parent signature as this will erase all previous information. And if you need to add a school, click “New Search” not “Next” which moves students to the next question.
Tip No. 3: Submit scholarship applications early
Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.
At TFS undergraduate and graduates can search for scholarships that fit their interest. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships that are the best match for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.
TFS has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.
SALT LAKE CITY–TFS Scholarships is the most comprehensive free online resource for higher education funding connecting students to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid.
It was founded in 1987 after Richard Sorensen’s father, an inner-city high school principal, bemoaned the lack of good scholarship resources for his students.
High school seniors now applying for college should also be applying for scholarships, according to Richard Sorensen, an expert with more than 30 years experience helping students find scholarships.
“College bound students should spend four to five hours a week looking for scholarships, starting in the fall of their senior year,” says Sorensen, President of TFS Scholarships. “They should think about finding scholarships like it’s a part time job.”
A scholarship, unlike a student loan, is free money and should always be the first place students look for help in funding their college education. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on the TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools, thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships.
“There are new scholarships posted on the site every month, each with different deadlines and time frames,” says Sorensen. “There is plenty of aid out there and a lot of it goes untouched. If a student is diligent, they’ll find it.”
TFS Scholarships also posts a new scholarship opportunity every day on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@TFSscholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities. “We call it ‘The Scholarship of the Day,’” says Sorensen. “Most of the scholarships are available for all students so if a student or their parents follow us, they will have the opportunity to apply for more than 300 scholarships every year from this source alone.”
TFS takes it a step further, digging deeper into localized scholarships. “If you wanted to go to Arizona State, for example, we have scholarships specific to that school,” says Sorensen.
Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database in an effort to stay current with national scholarship growth rates – maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.
Once students have their scholarships in hand, how they manage them can have important implications. It is up to the student to inform the school of the scholarship.
“The truth is, the money is going to be sent to the school in most cases,” says Sorensen. “If the money is going to tuition and books, it’s tax free. But it is taxable if they use it for living expenses. And if students get more money in scholarships than their direct expenses, they get the difference back from the school,” says Sorensen.
The TFS website also provides financial aid information, resources about federal and private student loan programs, and a Career Aptitude Quiz that helps students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.
Thanks to the financial support of Wells Fargo, TFS has remained a free, online service that effectively connects students with college funding resources to fuel their academic future. “Students trust us with a lot of their personal information and we respect that,” says Sorensen. “With TFS, they never have to be worried about being bombarded by spam.”
TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.
Lab assistant positions offer students interested in the sciences unparalleled professional experience, not to mention high wages. PayScale estimates that college laboratory assistants make around $14.62 an hour on average.
But Lakhani says that working as a lab assistant is worth more than just a paycheck. “If I’m interested in medicine, for instance, it would be a great idea for me to land a place, paid or unpaid, in a professor’s lab,” he says.
Working in a lab can expose students to a wide range of scientific processes and teach them the importance of diligence and attention to detail. More importantly, working as a lab assistant can help students network with professors which can lead to research opportunities. Getting research published alongside a widely respected professor is one of the best things that students in sciences can achieve during their academic careers.
Its not easy to launch a career in music but if you have your mind made up, then you are going to have to work hard. One of the easiest ways for students to get experience in the music industry is to get involved with their college radio station.
Most college stations have opportunities for first year students to work behind the scenes in operational roles with pathways to more front-facing positions like DJing.
The key to excelling in this position is to take advantage of every chance you get. Your first solo show may be at an awkward time or you may be assigned a genre that isn’t your favorite, but by embracing every opportunity that is thrown your way, you can turn an on-campus job at the college radio station into some serious professional preparation.
Newspaper ad sales
Another way to think about what on-campus job is best for you is to think about what types of skills you want to master. If you are interested in fields like sales or marketing, the school newspaper may offer the perfect job for you.
This job often includes reaching out to local businesses to sell ad space and working with operational teams to create and adjust strategy. Working in ad sales for the newspaper can be an amazing opportunity to get your hands dirty and make real sales. It also can give students the chance to oversee team goals and budgets.
Potential employers want to hear concrete examples of when you have performed a function that is part of a role so if you want to work in sales, you are going to need examples of when you have made sales. The newspaper will give you plenty of opportunities to do just that.
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Converse College announces that alumna Phyllis Perrin Harris ’82 has taken the helm as chair of the Board of Trustees, marking an historic milestone for the College as she becomes the first African American to hold this leadership position.
Recognized as a transformational leader in the corporate and federal sectors, Harris is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Legal Operations for Walmart Stores, Inc. In this role, she leads legal operations and focuses on technology advances for the world’s largest company.
“Serving Converse is one of the most meaningful and important roles in my life because I believe so strongly in the educational experience it provides young women,” Harris said. “Converse opened my mind to new ways of thinking about myself and my world, and it helped me become confident and resilient. Much of who I am today stems from that experience.”
Both a trailblazer and a leader, Harris is paving the way for fellow women through the launch of the Walmart Ready conference, which secures work for female and other diverse attorneys and prepares them for the demands of Walmart legal work. Earlier in her career, Harris was the first African American to serve as Regional Counsel and Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency where she advocated for justice, directed the nation’s environmental enforcement programs, and received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service.
“We know that diverse organizations are stronger, make better decisions, and are more successful because their Boards consider different perspectives and their decisions resonate with the variety of experiences, cultures, talents and contributions that comprise our global society,” said Converse President Krista L. Newkirk. “We believe that ensuring diversity on our Board of Trustees is an important step in building a stronger community both within and beyond Converse College.”
His Help From the Hart Charity Fund is partnering with the UNCF to award $600,000
Last week, actor and comedian Kevin Hart saluted LeBron James on the opening of his I Promise school for at-risk youth in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio. Now, we have a reason to salute Hart.
In a partnership involving the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and Hart’s own Help From the Hart Charity Fund, 18 KIPP students will have an opportunity to earn a college degree.
Through this partnership, a $600,000 scholarship will be established to provide funding in order to support KIPP students from eight different cities who are attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“The Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship will not only support students but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and president Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”
Derek Anderson, the former San Antonio Spurs star, wants to teach black kids how to talk to the police. Growing up virtually homeless in Louisville, Kentucky, Anderson made the unlikely journey from inner-city high school to college basketball star at the University of Kentucky and then an 11-year career in the NBA, crowned by a championship with the San Antonio Spurs.
None of that would have happened, he said, had he not treated people with kindness from his earliest memory. Kindness is transformative.
That insight inspired him to create the Stamina Academy, an after-school and weekend program in his hometown. While free of charge, the school demands a lot from its students, who are boys ranging from fifth grade through twelveth.
The lessons taught are what sets Stamina Academy apart. Instructors present scenarios that students may encounter in everyday life and teach them how to manage potentially explosive encounters—including ones with law enforcement. The scenarios are filmed to be watched and studied.
In one film, a student plays a police officer who has just pulled over another student in a random traffic stop, as often happens in the real world. The pretend-officer challenges the student with increasingly uncomfortable questions. The student-driver learns how to keep calm and avoid feeling provoked.
“They see first hand how something can get out of hand and how something can be avoided,” Anderson said. “They figure that if they respond with respect there could be no escalation to the situation.”
The real-world lessons may be just as valuable as learning to diagram a sentence or remember what happened on July 2, 1776. “It’s just as important that kids have strong life skills as it is they achieve in the classroom,” Anderson said. “We want to produce well-rounded kids who can avoid challenging situations through knowledge and being kind and positive, and who understand it all starts simply with being nice.”
Anderson insists his calm demeanor has carried him through, around and above various situations.Staying calm wasn’t easy. His father was not in his life and his mother, who battled drugs, often was not there. “When I wanted a job at the candy store and grocery store, I was kind and polite and it helped me get hired,” Anderson said. “When I needed to sleep at someone’s home, I was kind and grateful. Always. That’s what got me through.”
Anderson uses basketball to lure his 76 students. The former star player takes a hands-on approach to coaching, and his players benefit from his vast experience and know-how.
“And who Derek is as a person is important,” said Rontisha Toney, whose son, Austin, plays basketball and attends Stamina Academy after school and on weekends. “He focuses on the kids as people. He’s positive. He’s patient, always smiling. After practice, the player who performs the best in character and in play gets a belt that he gets to take home for the night. That kind of stuff helps build character and let’s them know it is more than just about the game.”
Anderson is among the most respected citizens in Louisville, largely due to the class and grace he displayed during his basketball career. Now he wants more young players to follow his lead.
He told the story of one of his 13-year-old students approaching an older woman at a Louisville Dairy Queen and paying for her order. “The woman cried,” Anderson said.
“If they perform acts of kindness everyday,” he said, “it becomes a lifestyle. That’s how you make change.”
Stephen Franklin, whose 14-year-old son Miles, attends Stamina and plays for its team, said a gesture by Anderson stood out to him—and validated what he teaches the kids.
“My wife is busy, I’m busy. My daughter is in dance,” Franklin recalled. “And I called D.A [Anderson] to tell him I would be late getting Miles to practice. He shocked me when he said, ‘Want me to go get him?’
“You never hear that from a coach. He’s a great example of what he wants the kids to become. We’re a family about community service and D.A. reinforces the spirit of gratitude.”
Students can spend the night in the Stamina gym, where tents are set up on the basketball court. There is a shower, a sauna and a barber. Anderson provides food and clothes for those who need them.
He guesses he has spent about $60,000 to make phase one of Stamina Academy a reality. He is seeking funds and property to build out a full-scale campus to teach more young men.
“The plan is to make it everything I wish I had growing up,” he said.
“We have to be the example, be positive, to change the way people act, the way people deal with each other,” Anderson said. “I say it all the time: Being kind is the greatest gift in the world.”
When Mareena Robinson Snowden walked across the commencement stage at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) on June 8th, she became the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the storied university.
For her, there was one particular word that the experience brought to mind: grateful.
“Grateful for every part of this experience — highs and lows,” she wrote on Instagram. “Every person who supported me and those who didn’t. Grateful for a praying family, a husband who took on this challenge as his own, sisters who reminded me at every stage how powerful I am, friends who inspired me to fight harder. Grateful for the professors who fought for and against me. Every experience on this journey was necessary, and I’m better for it.”
Snowden’s Ph.D. was the culmination of 11 years of post-secondary study. But the 30-year-old tells CNBC Make It that a career in STEM wasn’t something she dreamed of as a child.
“Engineering definitely was not something I had a passion for at a young age,” she says. “I was quite the opposite. I think my earliest memories of math and science were definitely one of like nervousness and anxiety and just kind of an overall fear of the subject.”
She credits her high school math and physics teachers with helping to expand her interests beyond English and history, subjects she loved.
“I had this idea that I wasn’t good at math and they kind of helped to peel away that mindset,” she explains. “They showed me that it’s more of a growth situation, that you can develop an aptitude for this and you can develop a skill. It’s just like a muscle, and you have to work for it.”
When Snowden, who grew up in Miami, was in the 12th grade and studying physics, she and her dad were introduced to a friend of a friend who worked in the physics department at Florida A&M University. At the time, she says, she was considering colleges and decided to make a visit to the campus.
“We drove up there and it was amazing,” says Snowden. “They treated me like a football player who was getting recruited. They took me to the scholarship office, and they didn’t know anything about me at the time. All they knew was that I was a student who was open to the possibility of majoring in physics.”
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Jawaun Williams always felt a void growing up on the South Side, going to schools with a predominantly black student population.
When he graduated from high school, he was one of the top 15 students in his class and in the honors society.
Still, something was missing.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to be taught by someone who looked like me. I never had any male black teachers,” Williams pointed out.
“I’ve only had one black teacher in my life. It was something I was used to, but as I’ve grown older, I realized that it is pretty weird that black men weren’t in my field.”
Though he wasn’t taught by many black men, Williams saw how influential educators could be in a young person’s life.
“Teachers taught me how to navigate, not only high school, but life. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to become a teacher.” the 19-year-old said.
Williams, a college sophomore, is one of six participants at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s “Call Me MISTER” program that aims to introduce more black and Latino male teachers into the Chicago Public School system.
This is the first year UIC is participating in the program, which stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models.”
“Call Me MISTER” started at Clemson University in 2000 and is operating in 31 schools. UIC is the first large urban school participating.
At CPS, 84 percent of the student body population are black or Latino, but 42.7 percent of the system’s teachers are black or Latino.
“As soon as I graduate I want to go back to the South Side of Chicago, and teach in the same neighborhood I came out of,” Williams said.
Williams and others in the “Call Me MISTER” program were recruited at schools with a majority black or Latino student population. They will receive full tuition and room and board.
Brannon Jones has a passion for education. After graduating from Albany State University in 2007, he took his first job at Adamson Middle School in Clayton County as a substitute technology teacher. This is where Brannon discovered that education is his calling.
He has since turned this calling into a business that helps high school youth start planning for college. Next Step Education Foundation, located in Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in November 2011 to help youth develop a college readiness mindset at an early age to tackle the challenges associated with attending college.
“I don’t want lack of finances, resources, or information to hinder a student from getting a college education. Our mission is to give students what they need to help them be prepared to make one of the biggest decisions of their life,” Jones says.
Jones discussed his organization.
Did you feel that you were prepared for college when you attended? I actually feel that I was unprepared. My parents instilled in me that I was going to college, but we didn’t have the logistical information on what I needed to do to be successful in the process. By happenstance, my mother met an ASU alumnus who nominated me for a summer bridge program that offered college credits and a stipend to students who attended the summer after graduation. Opportunities like this aligned for me to become successful; however, that’s not always the case for students. One thing I always tell students is, ‘If you don’t do the things necessary to help your parents pay for college, you will attend a college your parents can afford.’
What made you switch gears from teaching to helping youth with college readiness?
I took a position in college recruitment after leaving K–12. While working in recruitment, I noticed how ill-prepared many students were. Many students didn’t have a proper support system during the transition to college. I began to expose my applicants and enrollees to opportunities and resources beyond what my institution had to offer, and this is when I realized that I was filling an informational void.
What is the biggest obstacle you have witnessed in the college readiness process? Student access and awareness by far are the largest obstacles in the college readiness process. Students are coming from all walks of life, family backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses. Unfortunately, pertinent information and opportunities are not disseminated to all areas equally. In my opinion, there’s about a third of high school students who are going to college no matter what obstacles are in their way; there’s about a third of high school students that aren’t going to college no matter how many resources you provide for them; and then there’s a third that may or may not seek a higher education based on environmental factors including access and awareness. I focus on the latter group.
What types of ways does your organization help students with the process of preparing for college? We truly focus on access and awareness for students. We want to prepare them for the high school to college transition, then directly connect them to all types of institutions of higher education. We do this through a few programmatic platforms:
Virtual College Experience Program – As long as students have a computer, tablet, or smartphone, they can log into our Student Center and watch short research-based videos, complete activities, and download helpful documents to assist them through their college readiness process.
Community Workshops – We have partnered with local agencies, student groups, civic organizations, and community organizers to conduct workshops covering a wide range of college preparation topics including college selection, admissions, financial aid, scholarships, test preparation, money mistakes, and decisions making for college-bound students.
Annual College, Career & Services Fair – Every fall, we host a large fair to expose students to well-known and lesser-known colleges, career professionals and local service providers. Our third Annual Fair in 2016 created 41 on-the-spot college acceptances and 1.7 million in scholarship offers.
College Readiness 101 Workbook – I have recently released my first published resource for students. The College Readiness 101 Workbook is a student research-based book that assists students in strategically choosing their college and major, understanding financial aid and other financing options, as well as provide tips, tools, and resources for them use on their journey. Additionally, the workbook includes a portfolio for students to compare their top five colleges. Through their research, they will be able to articulate the best college for them and the reasons why.
For anyone seeking more detailed information about our organization, I encourage them to visit our website at nextstepeducation.org. We are more than ready to help students get on an organized path in pursuit of higher education.
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