Others Like You

A collection of stories from Black STEM students and profesionals to help guide you through your journey

Myles Johnson in Class

Our Creator

My name is Myles Johnson, and I am a UCLA graduate student-athlete. I graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering, as well as, played Center for the Men’s Basketball team. I was raised in Southern California, and  graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic high school.

I created BLKdev as an way to solve the problem for the underrepresentation of Black people in STEM. Throughout my years of college, the number of Black classmates dwindled, as I made it further and further unto my profession, to a point where now I can count on one hand many are left. With that being said, I also haven't had a Black professor nor TA nor LA in any of my Engineering courses. Statistically, this is also true in the STEM workforce, with Black men and women being underrepresented, due to systemic racism and lack of STEM field knowledge and pursuit.

My start into the STEM World started out early on as a child, I loved to play with Legos and was always interested in science, math and technology. I also participated in many extracurricular activities involving STEM. One of favorites being Saturday Science, which provided me with a weekly dose of STEM activities and experiments. Besides these activities, my father, is an electrician for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and his sister received her Masters in Electrical Engineering, so it’s safe to say engineering might be in my genes. 

Looking back I would tell children who are on the fence about pursuing STEM is that there is such a wide range of possible professions, not just coding, or Machinery, which comes to mind when hearing “Engineering”. The world of opportunities is never-ending with the broad reach of STEM. I would tell students not to shy away from taking STEM classes that are deemed “difficult.” I learned a lot of valuable skills from classes that people said were “too hard.” Also, never lose focus. It’s easy to get caught up in life and everything going on around you, but as long as you keep a clear head and set obtainable goals, you can find success.

As I mentioned before, my main focal point in STEM is Electrical & Computer Engineering, however, one great benefit of ECE is I'm not confined to doing just coding or circuit work, I do anything from robotics to solar energy to building spaceships. I will be continuing my education at the graduate level to obtain a Masters degree. Although I haven’t yet determined exactly which master’s program I will attend, I look forward to expanding my knowledge. After graduate school, I plan to move back to California to pursue a career in renewable energy and/or hardware design.

My dream scenario throughout middle and high school has remained unchanged throughout my progression through ECE. I would want to work for a big name tech company in the Silicone Valley, using my engineering knowledge to create new and improving technology. I see myself being part of the electrical energy revolution, as I believe in five years’ time, the world will be more reliant on electrical energy as a primary power source, in everything from cars, to houses, to industrial purposes.

To any current Black STEM Students, one piece of advice I would give is build as many connections as you can from the start. Many of your fellow students will go on to do great things, so having good people in your corner as a resource and building a substantial network early is a huge advantage.

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Read these stories from others in your shoes and find the inspiration to pursue your dreams

Myles Williams

My name is Myles Williams. I’m from Carson, California and graduated with a B.S. in computer engineering from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). I now work as an electrical engineer for a defense company in El Segundo, CA, focusing on digital design with FPGA’s. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a passion for building and creating, as well as a knack for math and science. I loved playing with LEGO sets and taking apart old toys I had in order to try to learn how they were built. Despite these things, it wasn’t until middle school that I fully knew that I wanted to become an engineer. Once I got to high school, I became interested in building gaming PC’s, a hobby that ended up inspiring me to want to major in computer engineering once I entered college. I also ended up joining my school’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an organization that has provided me with skills and strong friends/connections that I’ve continued to hold to this very day. At CSULB, I once again became an active part in my local NSBE chapter, where myself and fellow students helped to craft an environment for fellow Black STEM majors to study, bond, and succeed with one another. In this new phase of my life after graduating, I’m currently trying to learn as much as I can as a digital design engineer in the workforce, before returning to school to obtain a M.S. in electrical/computer engineering. To any current and/or aspiring Black STEM students, I highly implore you all to start connecting with one another as early as possible. A strong, stable network/support system is a key factor in succeeding in the STEM field, whether you’re in high school, college, or in the workforce. You can build a support group through starting your own club, or even joining chapters of an existing organization, like NSBE. I would also like for you all to remember that you are capable of achieving anything that you set your mind to, and that nothing is stopping you from doing that. While STEM may be known as one of the hardest subjects to learn, that shouldn’t limit you from pursuing a career in a field you find yourself interested in.

Kwabena Boachie

My name is Kwa and I am an artist/designer with a passion for making things beautiful. I currently work for myself in the development of my think tank, artistry and design studio KAADS dreaming of new ways to approach Art, Design, Agriculture and identity as it pertains to my experience as a first generation Ghanaian-American. I got into STEM through my curiosity in the creative technology world and my insatiable pursuit to learn and do all I can do in this world. Kids should be open minded STEM and how they can use it. I think kids should be aware of whats going on in their communities and how they can draw connections between their everyday experiences and what they are learning in the STEM fields. Upcoming generations should understand that all things are intertwined and don't be afraid to look elsewhere in the world to learn new perspectives. Those experience will serve as a guide to your journey in your specific field. My future plans are figuring out how to use technology to create more memorable human experiences in many different fields encompassing; art, design, fashion, agriculture and self-identity for people of color.

Joe Barr

My name is Joe Barr and I am a sophomore at Rutgers University majoring in Computer Engineering. I am from Camden, New Jersey and graduated from Camden Catholic High School. An interesting fact about me is that this past summer I started my own coding camp called BarrCode Camp, where I teach a coding language and provide guidance for incoming freshman in college. Ever since I could remember, I had this innate love and passion for S.T.E.M especially in computers and coding. What drew me into engineering was the challenge and creativity. Engineering, in my opinion, is the combination of analytical thinking and creativity because we use the laws and fundamentals of science and mathematics to create our inventions. For those who are pursuing the S.T.E.M field, you should look forward towards your college experience. College is the bridge connecting your dreams to your future occupation. You meet so many people like you where you can get your "geek" on and improve your S.T.E.M skills. If you really have that love and passion with that hard work ethic because you yourself want to learn and no one needs to tell you to study, college is going to be a blast. The two most important pieces of advice I would give to the upcoming generation in S.T.E.M are to never give up and live out your dream to the fullest. Engineering is not easy. However, that doesn't mean that you should not do engineering if that's your passion. Engineering isn't meant for the most brilliant people in the world. As long as you have a good work ethic and use your resources to improve, engineering becomes less difficult. I personally have never touched a programming until my senior year graduation and knew nothing about computers, circuits, and basically everything "I should know" as a computer engineer. I didn't let my ignorance dictate where I wanted to go to college and choose my major. I chose Rutgers University to major in computer engineering and right after graduation my grind started. I learned three programming languages that summer, studied ahead for classes, and asked for advice from deans, advisors and upperclassmen. After that summer preparation, I hit the ground running my first year and there was a notable difference between me and other students because of the work I put in and my commitment to be the absolute best I can be in everything I do because I follow my passion. When you start college or before, you may start brainstorming big ideas of possible inventions, reaching high accolades of some sort, and other huge goals. College is the best place to make your ideas and dreams into goals on your daily to-do-list. You have the resources, hopefully a support system like family or friends, and your drive to accomplish them. Why not try to reach your goals and give it your all to do something great in your eyes? Tying this into never giving up, you should always have something you're chasing like a dream, idea, etc. because you would do anything reach that goal and you would gain so much. After college graduation, I want to work for a big tech company like Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc. and continue to learn more about computers, work on computers, and influence the black community. My ultimate goals in the S.T.E.M field is to create my own programming language and create my own computer design. Until then, I'm going continue this enjoyable journey of college and in S.T.E.M continuing to optimize each day so my dreams get closer and closer.

Supreme Cook

Hello, I am Supreme Cook. I’m from East Orange, NJ and I graduated from The Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. I now attend Fairfield University on a athletic scholarship for basketball. I am also majoring in software engineering. What got me into STEM was the idea of STEM being able to constantly change and become more advance as well as change society. New innovations are being made everyday whether it is in math or technology. With each innovation brings something more interesting. What kids should look forward to in STEM is being able to create something that will impact the future or society. STEM allows you to create and play a role in the development of the future. I would tell the upcoming generation to become more knowledgeable when it comes to the latest technology, medicine etc. I would also to tell them to read about what the most successful people have done to reach that point. I plan on graduating from Fairfield University and getting my masters in software engineering. After college, I would want work as a developer.