The Mizzou chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers recently marked the successful finish of its first ever NSBE Week. The seven day-long affair included daily events for community outreach, organization awareness and member growth.
Kicking off Monday, Sept. 17 with the reverse career fair and then following up with the biannual engineering career fair, students had the opportunity to focus on honing their professional skills.
“We really just expected our executive board to attend, but we had so many more members come to the career fair to represent NSBE and talk to companies about what NSBE does and what we’re about,” Vice President Evonne Weeden said. “We got a lot of support from the companies.”
For one student in particular, the experience was an early week highlight.
“It’s always nice to have practice with your elevator pitch,” Sophomore Chavis Ferguson said at Thursday’s CASE event. “The repetition of going around and chatting with companies is beneficial. The more practice you get, the less nervous you get.”
Following the career-oriented sessions, members were invited to attend Wednesday’s mentor/mentee speed dating event. Students had the chance to get to know their fellow NSBE participants and find their perfect match.
“Mentorship is necessary, especially for an engineering student, but also for anyone,” Public Relations Chair Danae Nash said. “In college, you take on a lot at once, so it’s good to have that person to go to when you need advice.”
Ferguson echoed the sentiment and expressed his personal enthusiasm for the program.
“It’s always nice to have someone hold you accountable or to be held accountable,” he continued. “You can bounce ideas and advice off of each other.”
At the NSBE x CASE event, Weeden talked about all that went into planning the week long agenda. In fact, according to the club vice president it all began early into the summer, and each board member was given a day to host.
“I can honestly say it was a lot of planning and effort for the executive board,” Nash added. “I saw a lot of initiative and leadership growth in them throughout this whole process and week. It turned out really well, and I was really proud. It captured the spirit of our NSBE chapter perfectly.”
For Nash, personally, the weekend’s community outreach efforts were the most impactful. Especially after bonding with fellow members at Friday’s Grotto student BBQ. According to her, the goal behind Saturday’s STEM Cub partnership and Sunday’s trash cleanup were to positively impact Columbians. And that they did.
Teaming up with Director of Diversity and Outreach Initiatives Tojan Rahhal’s STEM Cubs for the weekend kickoff, NSBE Day, welcomed children to learn more about engineering.
“There was this little girl that I encountered personally, she didn’t want to come in at first,” Nash said. “She was the only black girl in the room, and she was the only girl too. She looked nervous. I went out there, I had my little Mizzou tiger ears on and everything, and I was talking to here. I was like, ‘I know what it’s like to be the only girl, the only black girl in the classroom. You can be my friend, come with me and we’ll have a good time.’ At first she wasn’t talking, but towards the end she was dancing and she was so happy.”
She was also not the only one impacted by the events, or the organization as a whole.
“You don’t have to be black to be in NSBE; you don’t even have to be an engineer,” Austin Easchal said. “You just have to like talking to other people, a family atmosphere and be willing to grow as a student and future professional. Anybody can join.”
And that was the very mission Weeden wanted to communicate to attendees.
“NSBE loves retaining freshman, so NSBE Week was about raising awareness for freshman more than anything,” Weeden said. “A lot of people within Engineering come in strong and believe they want to be engineering majors, but switch because they just don’t have the support or know the resources, so we strive to make sure we retain as many freshman as possible. Not even just black engineers, but engineers period. We just want people to know we exist and we’re here, and we’re a community of support.”