There’s the old saying that goes, "You are a product of your environment." One of the first trials I had when coming to Rutgers was my “people.” Not only in the sense that they looked like me or went through similar experiences, but also people who would be able to challenge me to push me to become the best version of myself (and have a fun time doing it). An organization that was able to supply me with all of this was the Minority Engineering Educational Task (MEET). MEET’s mission statement is “to increase the number of culturally responsible minority engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community,” and a component of that is present in every event that we do.
There were two key experiences that I had in MEET that helped shape me into the person that I am today. The first one occurred at the beginning of my freshman year when I decided to attend one of MEET’s study jam sessions called Achiever’s Plus. It was marketed as a quiet space to do homework or study, so I decided to attend to study some of the material we just received since it was the first week of classes. As I was scrolling through my Canvas pages, there was this other freshman I recognized from my physics class. We started to have a brief conversation about the class and then he asked me if I had completed the homework due at midnight. I had no idea physics homework was due, and it was 10:30 p.m. As I started to do the assignment, I realized that it was pretty difficult and that I had dug myself into a deep hole, so I started to panic. Thankfully, the guy in my class offered to help me with some of the questions that I struggled with, and I was able to submit the homework with 10 minutes to spare.
Even though it might sound like just another day in the life of an engineering student, this left an imprint on me because up to this point no one had reached out and offered me help. Based on how some of the courses are structured and how most engineering students are wired, engineering can be a competitive, cut-throat environment, especially for Blacks and other underrepresented minorities.
The support system that MEET provides is what has kept me a part of the organization. I was able to maintain a solid GPA because of the study sessions they provide, secure internship opportunities through professional development workshops, and discover more about myself and what I want to do in the future. If you are looking to participate in any organization on campus, MEET is definitely one you want to come to!