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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Club spotlight: National Society of Black Engineers

By Ali Raetz

The highly competitive fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics can be extremely challenging, especially without proper support.

This is where Western’s new chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers steps in.

According to NSBE’s national website, the mission of the student-governed organization is “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

Selome Zerai, club president (left), Ayisha Olanrewaju, club vice president (middle) and Natnael Zegherghish, club secretary gathered together for a meeting (right). // Photo courtesy of NSBE

In addition to abiding by the national mission, Western’s NSBE chapter goals are to provide support, resources and community for minorities in science, as well as help students achieve their academic goals, club vice president Ayisha Olanrewaju said.

“Students of color aren’t represented in the science field in universities or on this campus,” club president and freshman Selome Zerai said.

She said one of her strong motivations for starting this club came from a conversation she had with someone who didn’t continue in the computer science major because of the lack of support they felt. Zerai feels that NSBE can fill this gap and provide necessary support for students of color pursuing education and careers in the STEM field.

Selome Zerai talks with students interested in NSBE at the ice cream social. // Photo courtesy of NSBE

Zerai was part of the NSBE junior program for high school students in Seattle. When she came to Western as a freshman this year, she saw a need and had a desire to bring the club to campus. The club was created near the end of winter quarter 2018, and they had their first meeting spring quarter 2018, according to Zerai.

The club isn’t solely focused on academics either. Electrical engineer junior and club secretary Natnael Zegherghish said his favorite part about the club is the focus on socializing and learning together as a community.

“At our club meetings, we have educational things that we do, but we also play games and build community,” Olanrewaju said. “Right now, we have a good following of people that come to our club and have made connections and friends. We really want to bring people together.”

NSBE hosted an ice cream social for its first event in April and the entire Viking Union 565 room was filled with intrigued students.

Students enjoyed ice cream and an ice breaker to get to know each other at NSBE’s ice cream social. // Photo courtesy of NSBE

“A lot of students seemed interested in the club and a lot of the other science clubs were excited and supportive of us,” Olanrewaju said.

Since its first event, NSBE has hosted resume workshops, listened to guest speakers and held an all-day study hall before finals week. Next year they hope to collaborate with other clubs within the Ethnic Student Center and science clubs, as well as send students to the NSBE national conference in Detroit over spring break, Zerai said.

The NSBE club officers areexcited about fall quarter 2018 and encourage everyone to stop by a meeting.

NSBE spent one of their meetings learning from Career Services about building professional resumes for engineers. // Photo courtesy of NSBE

“Come by and see how it is, even if you’re not in STEM. If you’re just curious about it, we’re open to everyone,” Olanrewaju said.

Western NSBE will post information about club meetings and events for fall quarter 2018 on its Facebook page and Instagram, which can be reached via @wwunsbe.

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