Pitt | Swanson Engineering
NAMEPA Recognizes Swanson School’s Commitment to Diversity in Engineering

Blacksburg, Va. (September 22, 2017) … The National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) awarded both the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Simeon Saunders and the INVESTING NOW program for outstanding contributions to the recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented groups pursuing education in engineering. Saunders received the NAMEPA Wings to Succeed Award, and INVESTING NOW received the NAMEPA Recruitment Award at the 38th Annual NAMEPA National Conference, which took place from Sept. 10 – 13 on the Virginia Tech campus.

Simeon M. Saunders is an academic counselor and Coordinator for Diversity Outreach for the Pitt EXCEL Program, which annually provides more than 250 students—particularly historically underrepresented groups in engineering—with academic counseling, peer mentoring, tutoring, engineering research opportunities, graduate school preparation, and career development workshops. 

NAMEPA grants the Wings to Succeed Award to people who have helped students overcome historic barriers for minority groups or who have met the challenges of their positions and committed extraordinary effort to fulfilling their job responsibilities. The award usually goes to non-traditional diversity roles, such as faculty, corporate representatives, community organizers, and other university administrators.

Saunders received his bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in higher education management from Pitt. He is currently working toward his doctorate in social and comparative analysis in education. In 2010, Saunders joined the Pitt EXCEL team and created the male mentoring group B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. (Brothers Respecting Open Thought Helping Every-Man Realize His Own Original Dream). The group offers opportunities for upperclassmen and alumni to participate in local community service activities, workshops, seminars, social outings, and peer to peer mentoring opportunities.

Since 1988, INVESTING NOW has prepared pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups for matriculation at selective colleges and universities, such as the University of Pittsburgh, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors. Approximately 175 students participate annually in INVESTING NOW activities, which include advising sessions, tutoring, hands-on science and engineering workshops, college planning sessions, and career awareness activities. The primary goals are:

1. Create a pipeline for well-prepared students to enter college and pursue science, technology, engineering, and math majors.
2. Encourage and support students’ enrollment and achievement in advanced mathematics and science courses.
3. Ensure that the participants make informed college choices.
4. Support and encourage parents in their role as advocates for their children.
5. Coordinate partnerships between the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and local schools.

NAMEPA grants the Recruitment Program Award to programs that have engaged minority student populations in engineering. Over the past three decades, not only has 100 percent of INVESTING NOW students graduated from high school, but a minimum of 94 percent of INVESTING NOW graduates have made the transition to college, including 100 percent in 2016 and 97 percent in 2017 – with more than 50 percent of both groups entering college as STEM majors. 

The INVESTING NOW team at Pitt includes: Dr. Alaine M. Allen, Director of INVESTING NOW, pre-college STEM diversity program and Pitt EXCEL, undergraduate engineering diversity program; Linda Demoise, Academic Support Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Emiola Jay Oriola, Associate Director for INVESTING NOW; Heather Mordecki, Office Coordinator for INVESTING NOW and Pitt EXCEL; Patience Stanicar, Program Coordinator for INVESTING NOW; C. Elyse Okwu, Female Empowerment Mission (FEM) Coordinator; and Julissa Garcia, Student Assistant.

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Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer, 9/22/2017

Contact: Paul Kovach