When Florida Polytechnic University senior Stacie Akinyi was a student at boarding school in her native Kenya, she started a side hustle selling snacks and sundries to her peers. She soon discovered she had a knack for entrepreneurship that she couldn’t ignore.
“I loved the idea of being in business,” said Akinyi, who is majoring in business analytics with a concentration in logistics and supply chain management. “I know in the long-term I want to have my own business, and business analytics seemed like an interesting integration of tech with business. The professors in that department are the best.”
As she prepares to graduate this spring and enter the workplace, Akinyi is eager to put her education to work.
“Although I am scared, I feel super prepared because Florida Poly has given me the resources I need to grow as an individual and as a scholar,” Akinyi said. “I have the theoretical knowledge of what I need to know in terms of technical skills and my background, and I have also interacted with so many professionals here on campus.”
Akinyi said her university experience was made much less stressful through the aid of scholarships like the Florida Poly Scholarship and an Army Emergency Relief scholarship.
“Both helped me study comfortably and hot have to worry about the basic needs a typical student striving on their own would have to fret about,” she said.
For the last several months, Akinyi has worked as a supply chain intern for Immertec, a medical technology company in Tampa, Florida.
“I really love it. It’s exactly what I’m learning in school and allows me to apply it in the field,” she said. “It’s also a startup company, so I’m also observing how the company runs and I get to ask a lot of questions about the decisions they make and the things we are doing.”
On campus, Akinyi has used many of the resources available to her, including the University’s entrepreneurship resources, to help her prepare for success. She has also served as a Presidential Ambassador and been part of organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, Rotaract, and the Diversity Club.
As a Black woman, Akinyi said she has had to grapple with the problems of being overlooked or underestimated. But she said she has learned to assert herself and claim her rightful place both inside and outside of the classroom.
“Sometimes if I’m the only female on a team project, a male partner would put their foot forward and take the initiative on doing stuff and assign me the less important stuff,” she said. “As a female it’s kind of insulting because they feel they can do the hard stuff and want me to just to the small things.”
She added it’s important for women in STEM fields to stand firm and trust in their abilities.
“You need to be aware of these challenges that come with being a female in a male-dominated field and you need to voice your concerns and stand up for yourself,” Akinyi said. “The key is to be aware of it and don’t let anything get in your way. Don’t take anything too personally.”
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of feature stories that highlight diversity on Florida Poly’s campus and celebrate Women’s History Month.
Director of Communications