My Mission of Advocacy for Academic Empowerment, Excellence and Student Success at HBCUs
Greetings. It is with great enthusiasm and excitement that I introduce myself as the new Program Director for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation. Prior to joining NSF, I served as the Interim Dean for the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology at Delaware State University. I have a broad range of experience in working with minority and underrepresented students in STEM, having served as the Biology Department Chairperson, Associate Dean for Student Success, Associate Director of the MARC U*STAR program, Director of Forensic Biology and rising through the ranks to obtain full professorate. My experience coupled with my passion to serve the HBCU community is a declaration of my commitment to ensuring that our institutions remain leaders in academic excellence and continue to provide opportunities by broadening participation to the student populations that we serve.
As a three-time graduate of HBCUs, I have a profound understanding and appreciation for what our institutions have done for decades, which is to provide opportunities for students who would otherwise be ignored by traditional institutions. I clearly remember my first day of classes as a freshman biology major at Norfolk State University. I was completely overcome with excitement to be afforded the opportunity to attend college, but the excitement was equally matched with fear and anxiety. Being the first in my family to attend college, I knew failure was not an option and too many folks at home were depending on me to change the trajectory of my family. The faculty at NSU embraced me and made sure that I succeeded and four years later, I graduated with honors. My journey led me to Delaware State University, where I complete my Master’s degree in Biology and discovered a passion for teaching and mentoring. This prepared me for a lecturer position at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where I met Dr. Kelly Mack who inspired me to enroll in the Ph.D. program. Life took me down the scenic route, but I finished and jumped at the opportunity to become an Assistant Professor at DSU. During my tenure at DSU, I became a strong advocate for students, many of which had lives that were mirrors images of my own and had a desire to pursue careers in STEM, but simply needed guidance and access to the opportunities. I am confident that the HBCU and the STEM Central Communities can work collectively for continued achievement of the three strategic goals of the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD) which are to 1) create new knowledge, innovations and models for broadening participation in the STEM enterprise, 2) provide our stakeholders the mechanism and channels for the translation of knowledge, innovations and models for broadening participation in STEM and, 3) expand stakeholder’s capacity to support and engage diverse populations in high quality STEM education and research programs. I look forward to interacting with the HBCU’s on this journey to increase the parity, presence and power of HBCUs.