It has been an honor to participate in President Obama’s STEM initiatives #ThinkBigDiversity

Being at the White House and contributing to President Obama’s initiatives in STEM such as the “My Brother’s Keeper STEM+” and STEM Inclusion Conference in 2016 have been among the highlights of my career. I sincerely thank Dr. Marvin Carr and Dr. Quincy Brown for providing the opportunities to participate in the programs that they led under President Obama. It was even a greater thrill to be able to share some of the moments with PROMISE students and alumni, and friends and colleagues from the STEM world who were and continue to be on fire to make a difference in the lives of our youth and our communities. I was telling my mom the other day that I wish I could go back into the White House and do it all again. I would relish it … perhaps walking slower down the halls, taking my time in those staircases, and smiling at all of the beautiful faces that smiled warmly back at me. It has been a special time. Thank you President Obama … I was able to have this experience in your White House, and it has been a thrill.



I have so much to say, but not very much time given my to-do list, so feel free to join me in my little trip down memory lane.


My first visit for a meeting of the “My Brother’s Keeper STEM +” initiative, the STEM branch of President Obama’s MBK program. December 2015.

I had just returned from Australia and had discussed global diversity in STEM, and I was extremely excited to be invited to be at the table for the President’s STEM branch of the My Brother’s Keeper program.

Composite White House Dec 2015


My Brother’s Keeper STEM + (PROMISE was listed!) April 2016.

Imagine being the Founding Director of a program and having it mentioned within the My Brother’s Keeper initiatives. This press release was posted on April 22, 2016.

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WhiteHouse PROMISE


White House STEM Mentoring and Volunteering Symposium, August 2016

It was a thrill to see both mentors and mentees at this meeting. I had the chance to discuss the ways that cultural awareness contributes to mentoring, and ways that groups can collaborate and share resources to serve their students.




Women in Computer Science (Left) … In light of  the 2017 release of the “Hidden Figures” book and movie, it is more apparent than ever that people need to know that there are brilliant women of color who master and love their respective science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.  People need to know about the existence of the women in this photo and others. This photo was taken in one of the hallways.  Yes, we were in these halls in 2016 … as scientists and engineers. Our groups discussed ways that we could use our own experiences to advance STEM among underrepresented students, in big ways. Key to the discussions were ways that we could make large impacts. How could we provide STEM educational experiences for hundreds … thousands of underrepresented students? Which interventions could be replicated, and which ones could be scaled up? While I’d known Dr. Quincy Brown (far right) in the past, during this meeting at the White House, I had a chance to re-connect with scholars whom I’d met in Miami at the conference of the National GEM Consortium, and connect with people whom I knew by reputation or via Twitter, but was meeting in person for the first time.



Innovation at the Intersections: Arts, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship & STEM, 2016 & The White House Conference on Inclusive STEM Education for Youth of Color. October 2016.

with-marvin-thursday-night-white-houseThese photos have some of our PROMISE students and alums. Dr. Marvin Carr served in the Office of Science and Technology Policy and played a pivotal role in developing STEM mentoring initiatives within the Obama administration. It was an honor to be part of the meetings, conferences, and discussions that came out of the STEM inclusion initiatives in the White House. Dr. Quincy Brown (formerly at the White House, now at AAAS) who has served as a PROMISE mentor organized the October 2016 STEM Inclusion conference. We thank Dr. Brown for her leadership in STEM inclusion at The White House. Dr. Carr and Dr. Brown lead their respective sessions in these two photos.




The photo tweeted below has two of our current UMBC PROMISE doctoral students in the College of Engineering and IT, with Dr. Quincy Brown. All were Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation LSAMP students at their respective undergraduate institutions, and LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellows. All were also part of our international engagement in STEM initiative in Ecuador in 2014, so this was a reunion. I recruited Adegboyega “Ade” Akinsiku (L) and Hector Medina (R) from undergrad, so having them with me at The White House now as doctoral students was a special “mentor moment.” In the background, you see the Executive Director of the National Society of Black Engineers (Dr. Karl Reid), and Intel’s Director of Global Strategic Initiatives (Barbara McAllister).



October 2016 – Computer Science for All and STEM Inclusion.

Below, with Dr. Patti Ordóñez, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. Patti was a PROMISE Peer Mentor when she was a graduate student. She was at the White House for a “Computer Science for All” forum, and I was there for the STEM Inclusion Conference.



And then there was the food.

When you’re in meetings with academic, government, industrial, and non-profit leaders, you feel a bit self-conscious when you pull out your cell phone to take a picture of the “Presidential” napkins and cupcakes. However, once I starting taking photos, others joined in and then everyone was taking pictures of their cake.

Looking back on it, while I didn’t take pictures in every room, nor video of every moment, I’m glad that I have some photos, particularly photos with our PROMISE family.  And yes, it was worth risking my reputation to take a picture of the cupcake … this is a cupcake that was baked, eaten, and enjoyed in the Obama White House, in 2016. Those were good times.



To my friends and colleagues who were there, we will remember our commitments … they will be fulfilled. Our patriotism and love of people, love of community, will propel us forward. Many of us had a chance to reach this level of service under President Obama, and we are thankful for the opportunities to serve. Thank you President Obama.  The hope remains. Our work continues.

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