Office of Diversity Helps Minority Students Succeed, Prepare for Career

2-15-18Students gather around a poster for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

Nothing brings more joy to educators than seeing their students succeed. For Assistant Dean of Diversity Initiatives Jada Lewis, there is plenty to be happy about.

Over the last five years, the graduation number for underrepresented minorities in the LSU College of Engineering has increased by 97 percent. During the 2012-13 academic year, for instance, 62 minority students received a bachelor’s degree. In May 2017 alone, that number was 112.

“Since I have been here, our diversity numbers have skyrocketed and I don’t think it’s by accident,” said Lewis, who also oversees the college’s Office of Diversity. “It is creating a community and a culture. Our diversity students aren’t just surviving, they are thriving.”

She credits the success of the diversity program with helping students navigate their time at LSU through resources like academic coaching, professional development, resume writing and mock interviews.

“LSU is a huge place,” Lewis said. “Our office is like a one-stop shop for those students that have questions about the different resources [available to them].”

The Office of Diversity also oversees four student organizations – the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Diversity Ambassadors.

Sarah Jones, associate director of diversity initiatives, believes these organizations provide great opportunities for students to start networking with industry professionals.

In fact, SWE President Aida Hendrickson has a guaranteed job after college because of her organization.

Hendrickson, a mechanical engineering senior with a minor in aerospace engineering, said she started out as a member and gradually became more involved. The Gretna, La.-native has received scholarships through SWE and attended two of its national conferences, which resulted in the job offer.
“It is a really great organization with a lot of resources,” she said. “You just have to take advantage of it.”

Additionally, the Office of Diversity houses a handful of signature events and programs.

Engineering Tiger Connections (ETC), Women Impacting Style in Engineering (WISE), First Impressions, Recruitment into Engineering High Ability Multicultural Scholars (REHAMS), and the Halliburton eXploration Camp for Inspiring Tomorrow’s Engineers (XCITE) are all designed to help high school and college students become more involved with and better prepared to enter the engineering field.

Helping with these programs are alumni, who Lewis said will often give back to the college by mentoring the students who participate.

“They talk through their experiences and coach the students on some of the key programs and services that really helped them to be successful,” she said.

To learn more about the Office of Diversity, click here.

By Raven Nichols, Communications Intern