Door to door: walking for education awareness
Penn's branch of the National Society of Black Engineers gave info on STEM fields
October 27, 2013, 1:38 pm · Updated October 28, 2013, 12:05 am·
In the United States, less than 3 percent of blacks are working in science, technology, engineering or math-related fields. On Saturday, Penn’s National Society of Black Engineers chapter “walked for education” in an effort to change that.
A Walk For Education is a grassroots program within NSBE, a national student-run organization whose mission is to increase the number of black engineers who graduate from four-year institutions.
Members walked door-to-door to about 60 houses in the Wissahickon neighborhood of northwest Philadelphia to give out packets of information to residents on the SATs and ACTs, financial aid, scholarships and jobs in STEM fields.
NSBE Vice President and Engineering junior Samantha Jones said it was not just about giving out an information packet. Members wanted to make each interaction a personal conversation to get the opinions and thoughts of people in the household, she added.
“Really, the main point is … getting people to talk about the importance of education [and to let them know] that they have opportunities and that they’re not alone,” NSBE Community Service and Technical Outreach Community Help Chair and Engineering sophomore Elaida Dimwamwa said.
This is the first year that the walk was brought to Philadelphia, with members from chapters at Penn, Drexel University, Temple University and Community College of Philadelphia collaborating together.
The walk was not held in the past because of concerns over safety and effectiveness. “It’s daunting to go door-to-door,” Dimwamwa said.
Dimwamwa said that despite having doubts, NSBE decided to make an effort this year.
NSBE President and Engineering and College senior Lydia Atangcho recalled a conversation on Saturday with a woman who wanted to go to dental school in the long run, but couldn’t go to CCP because of financial issues. She advised the woman to look into other universities as well as federal student aid and scholarships.
“It seemed like she didn’t have a way, like [her goal] wasn’t tangible,” she said. Atangcho added that many people are just looking for a way to reach their goals.
Atangcho said that NSBE members were “pleasantly surprised” to see the high level of interest in the community in learning more about STEM fields. Dimwamwa mentioned college graduates who told her they “appreciated that their neighborhood was being taken care of.”
NSBE plans to make the walk an annual event and to follow up by hosting a STEM conference and workshops for both Philadelphia students and parents in the spring. They also plan on hosting another event in the Wissahickon neighborhood in the spring.