2018 Grant Award: Oluwasanmi Ariyo

The mission of my organization, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is to “increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community." When I began to attend general body meetings in September 2015, from the beginning I realized this was an organization that was made for me and something that I wanted to be a part of for the remainder of my collegiate career. Through my gradual integration within the program, I was eventually connected with several upperclassmen and immersed myself with my peers who shared the same majors and classes as myself. Because of this, NSBE has been my one stop destination for everything engineering, professional, business and educationally related.

Because of everything that NSBE has done for me, I made it a mission to give back through dedicating some of my time to the executive board. During my third year, I was selected to serve as the corporate liaison for the organization, serving as the link between students and the various companies who are interested in the students. Through my time on this e-board position, I have learned a lot and have developed many skills that I will take with me into my professional career. Specifically, I have been able to improve in my time management, negotiating skills and e-mail etiquette. Overall, this experience has allowed me to give back to the organization that has done so much to me, but it has also paved a path for me to affect many individuals through my position and the leadership roles that I hold through NSBE.

Every year, the national conference is anticipated by all of our members due to various seminars, connections and professional development opportunities that arise through this large prolific event which boasts a career fair that even Penn State’s cannot rival. With each year, the event is held is a different city such as San Francisco, Boston, Kansas City and various other destinations. Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend other conferences due to financial constraints or conflicts with school- but this year was a completely different story (through the assistance of the PLA). As the national convention slowly approached, I made it a goal that I would attend no matter what, so that I can continue to grow from an organization that has already done so much for me. By planning ahead and the generous support of the Presidential Leadership Academy, I was able to achieve this goal that I set for myself during my freshman year.

To say that I was overwhelmed by the conference would indeed be an understatement because to put my experience in words is something that I am still trying to figure out to this day. Everything about the conference held a “go big or go home” type of theme from the career fairs, special events and even hospitality suites that were hosted by various companies. The biggest thing that I would say came from the event is seeing so many African-Americans throughout the conference who are successful professionals and other aspiring students from various other institutions who have the ambition to follow in their footsteps. Personally, I believe that it is easy to say that blacks are mainly successful within the entertainment industry but when it comes to “traditional” professional careers, the ones who are successful are very few compared to the pool of other successful professionals throughout the country. Attending this conference was not only a time where I attained information, networked and observed many different things, it was a time where my self-confidence flourished due to the atmosphere that I have rarely seen in my entire life.

Now that I have less than one more year before graduation, I am more than delighted in my performance as Corporate Liaison and what NSBE has done for me in terms of providing me with a family, a place where several connections were made and most of all, a place where I could relate to people who are going through the same experiences and curriculums similar to mine. I know that once I am a professional, I can reflect back and use my resources to help other young people who were once in my footsteps, allowing me to fulfill the mission of NSBE.