Three regional awards

Apr 9, 2009

The prestigious National Society of Black Engineers has awarded Kettering University three regional honors in recognition of the accomplishments of its students and Multicultural Student Initiatives.

Three of the highest awards presented by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) have been awarded to Kettering University in honor of its achievements in preparing students who excel academically, succeed professionally and have a positive impact on the world.

Dwight Tavada, director of Kettering’s Office of Multicultural Student Initiatives (OMSI), said the three regional honors are:

  • Highest GPA: Kettering’s NSBE chapter has the highest average cumulative GPA;
  • Chapter of the Year: Kettering’s NSBE chapter has fulfilled the national mission of increasing the number of culturally responsible black engineers; and
  • Highest Penetration Rate: Kettering’s NSBE chapter is recognized for the penetration of the largest percent of the black minority population at its university.

Tavada, OMSI Assistant Director Dr. L.B. McCune and 21 students attended the NSBE national convention in Las Vegas March 25-29 to accept the elite recognitions. Kettering competed against major universities in the Midwest in its categories, including Indiana University, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin.

Tavada said being present to watch the presentations was an important moment for his OMSI team.  “This means we’re doing a great job in recruiting and retaining African-American engineering students at Kettering University.  We nurture our students and give them a sense of community involvement,” Tavada explained.  “Co-op helps our students adjust to this difficult and global economic environment and helps create a university environment that provides the academic, financial and emotional support they need for success.”

Tavada said Kettering graduates about 80 percent of the African-American engineering students that matriculate at the University.  He noted that the statistic is significant because the graduation average for African-American engineering students is now 36-40 percent nationally.  “Other schools, even the historically black institutions, aren’t doing as well as we are here at Kettering.  It’s a real point of pride for our operation because it is difficult to retain African Americans in the field of engineering,” Tavada said.

Tavada credits his entire OMSI team and gave special thanks to McCune, the NSBE adviser.  He meets weekly with the executive board and general membership of Kettering’s NSBE chapter.  “We ask our students to be committed to their education and their community,” McCune said.  “We take their community service obligation very seriously and that’s why this is such an amazing accomplishment.  We were especially honored to be at the national convention and receive this recognition in front of 15,000 students from around the country.”

McCune said Kettering’s NSBE members actively support the local Salem Housing Center, the Food Bank of East Michigan and My Brothers Keeper, a local shelter for homeless men.  “Their commitment is substantial.  This is absolutely great,” he added.

Ricky Brown, director of OMSI’s Pre-College Programs, said he thinks a big part of this achievement is the closeness that OMSI is able to create on campus.  “This is a family atmosphere,” Brown explained.  “We look at our students as individuals – as our own kids.  We push them to succeed and the only way they can do that is graduate from Kettering and do well.  We strive to get them out of Kettering with excellent grades and employment experiences,” Brown added.

Stephanie Jones, associate director of Pre-College Programs, agreed.  “It’s a great honor to help our students reach their goals and help them realize they have options in pursuing their degree,” she said.  “It makes everything we do in our program worth it.”

Jones credits Kettering’s professional cooperative education program as a big part of OMSI’s ongoing success.  “Our students get to experience real work in a real world environment.  They achieve in academics and in their work, which helps them better understand what they want to do and not do.  They don’t have to wait until they graduate to sort through their interests and skills," she added.

Perhaps OMSI administrative assistant Nadia Gilbert was able to sum it up best: “this is so awesome,” she said, smiling.  “Being here every day, just knowing I can help the students when they come to us in a time of need is very rewarding.  Our students are very active in Kettering and outside in our community.  That alone is awesome.  I commend them for their hard work and for these successes,” she added.

Read more on the Office of Multicultural Student Initiatives.

Written by Patricia Mroczek