When mechanical engineering major Arianna Pierre arrived at Florida Polytechnic University, she was eager to build connections with her peers and find a circle of friends that reflected her own experience.
Now president of the campus’ chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Pierre has not only found a motivated, STEM-minded community of Black students, but she’s also taken up its reins as leader.
“My mindset behind it is I want to continue to push that motive of excellence in STEM because there's not a lot of us (Black STEM professionals) out there,” said the junior from Orlando, Florida. “I want to continue impacting the community and succeed in the field. I didn’t have any Black role models in engineering when I was growing up, and I want to change that for the next generation.”
Pierre and the chapter’s leadership board are working to support and empower Black students on campus while cultivating a sense of community and leadership among its members.
During the fall 2023 semester, NSBE began hosting events such as presentation and LinkedIn workshops and study jams near exam times, allowing students to study with and help their peers.
The club also started scheduling industry tours. Its first was to the Kissimmee Utility Authority power plant in Kissimmee, Florida.
“I want everyone in the organization to see the different companies out there and learn more about them, so we get exposure to those fields,” Pierre said. “I feel like you can only say so much about a company, but when you’re there you can actually see what’s going on and gain your own perspective.”
Joseph Williams, the group’s treasurer, said he also didn’t have many STEM role models growing up, but he was motivated to pursue a degree in computer science after watching his sister achieve her educational goals.
“She chose to do nursing and get her doctorate, and that’s what inspired me to get something as good as that,” he said.
Williams, from West Palm Beach, Florida, said joining NSBE has supported his academic pursuits while also pushing him to step out of his comfort zone and into a leadership position.
“I have a better understanding now of what it is to be a leader, and I’ve learned it’s a lot of work,” he said. “You have a lot of people counting on you and you don’t want to let them down, so that motivates me to do what I need to do.”
The NSBE chapter at Florida Poly holds meetings twice a month on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For more information, visit the group’s Discord page.
“Being part of this group allows us to keep going,” Pierre said. “We understand the struggles of being in STEM and also those from our background. Together, we make a great team.”
Director of Communications