No matter where I ended up going to college, there was one thing that I knew I would become a part of, and this was essentially ingrained in me from the moment my academic interests began to surface. Once it became clear that I was interested in engineering, the same field that my mom chose to study in, she let me know that I would love being a part of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
Naturally, I asked for some more information about the club I had just heard about. The organization, I learned was active all across the country, from middle schoolers to professionals, and essentially served as a safe space for Black engineers no matter where they were in their career. Interested, I added it to the list of things I would ask about as I began my college search.
When I had the chance to tour USC, I somewhat coincidentally stumbled across the Center for Engineering Diversity while making my way through Ronald Tutor Hall. It was there that I learned how the NSBE chapter here had recently won National Chapter of the Year, confirming for me that if I were to end up at USC I would be doing myself a disservice if I did not become a part of the organization.
By the time my first fall semester rolled around, many of my friends were searching for involvements, but I knew what was at the top of my list. I found the information for contacts and meetings and joined the first club Zoom meeting that I could. Though I was the nervous freshman who at first knew no one in the club, nor how anything was supposed to go, I immediately was met with people who were eager to get to know me, help me out in any way I needed and support me in finding my place on campus. Meetings continued throughout the semester, and I felt more and more a part of the family as the weeks went on. The online environment meant that we could only join each other in games like PowerPoint Family Feud, Scribbl.io and more of the same but I could still feel the effects of the club that my mom had preached about.
NSBE meant that I always had someone I could go to for questions, whether they were about a challenging problem in my CS courses, how I should go about tackling technical interviews, or what barber shops to trust when I finally could come to campus. I had found a community of people like me, who had lived through similar experiences and ones that I would soon encounter. A year online was terrifying and difficult, but our Tuesday night meetings made me feel less stressed and much more confident.
I couldn’t have been more excited to see the friendly faces from Zoom, safely and clearly in person on campus. I got the chance to thank those who informally served as mentors, and finally enjoy the provided food at meetings that upperclassmen had raved about again and again. I quickly became confident that USC was my place, but NSBE definitely made it feel much more like a home.