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Black History Month

Meet Memorial's chapter of National Society of Black Engineers

By Jackey Locke

February is Black History Month.

To help celebrate, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has teamed up with members of the Memorial University chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to highlight some of the chapter’s initiatives happening at the university.

“At NSBE MUN, we hope to foster a community to support black identifying students and ethnic minorities participating in Memorial’s engineering program,” said Victory Aifuwa, chapter president. “It consists of students who passionately believe that everyone should have access to thoughtfully designed communities that nurture and support their journey through Memorial’s engineering program.”

Ms. Aifuwa says the black engineering experience can be improved with recognition and acknowledgment.

“If you never acknowledge a certain demographic, you can never build systems that cater to them,” she said. “The experiences of black engineers and a lot of international students vary differently from those of domestic students. Acknowledging that things are harder for us and putting in place resources to promote our success, such as career fairs, more flexible academic structures and opportunities to gain valuable skills, would improve our experiences.”

Victory Aifuwa, NSBE chapter president.
NSBE chapter president Victory Aifuwa
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

NSBE MUN provides supports, not only to engineering students at Memorial, but also to a wide variety of audiences in the university’s STEM programs.

“It’s not the colour that matters; it’s the culture.” — Chioma Akubueze

Ms. Aifuwa says NSBE MUN organizes events centred on three core values: community; learning and networking; and the promotion of the professional, academic and social development of its members.

One recent initiative was the creation of a resumé and cover letter bank where students can access examples of cover letters and resumés from peers of all races and ethnicities. This has become a great resource for students applying for co-operative education work terms.

‘Month to be proud’

“Although it happens in the shortest month of the year, it’s a time for any black identifying person to be the representation, to embrace the culture, to embody being black,” said Chioma Akubueze, director of communications, NSBE MUN.

Chioma Akubueze wears a black and white checked jacket and black shirt while leaning on a glass rail with windows behind her.
NSBE director of communications Chioma Akubueze
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“It’s not the colour that matters; it’s the culture. That’s what we are celebrating. It’s a celebration that screams, ‘I am Black or Black people exist.’ It’s a month to be proud of one’s culture, which should be celebrated all throughout the year.

Ms. Aifuwa also says that while Black History Month is a time to recognize and acknowledge Black culture, finding community is still challenging.

“Community in the sense that I wish that the people who came before me were more accessible to me,” she said. “I could rely on them to share their experiences with the program and be able to learn from those experiences. I believe NSBE MUN is on a mission to bridge that gap.”

Feb. 21 event

NSBE MUN is hosting a talk on Monday, Feb. 21, at 1:30 p.m. (NST) for Memorial students with guest speaker Tinotenda Mpofu (B.Eng.’20). Ms. Mpofu is currently a project manager in the telecommunications and technology industry. She will share her experiences as a black engineering student at Memorial to help students gain an insight on some of the challenges and how to overcome them. To register for this free event on Discord, visit here.

NSBE MUN is still accepting resumé and cover letter examples for its members. If you would like to contribute, please submit your resumé and cover letter via email. All resumés and cover letters will be redacted to protect individual identity prior to being uploaded to the bank.

To join NSBE MUN, visit here.

Keep an eye out for profiles of Memorial’s members of the National Society of Black Engineers in the Gazette throughout the month of February!

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