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Student Profiles

Audra Barnes - Cohort 2021

Audra Barnes

PhD, Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering, Florida A&M University

To be able to earn a graduate degree without worrying about funding. Also to be in a network of other who either earned or are in the process of earning a graduate degree. This network can be a great place for mentors and to have people in your corner who relate to you.

I hope to gain more knowledge on cardiovascular engineering through both classes and research.

Zackory Biggers Headshot - Cohort 2021

Zackory Biggers

Masters, Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

I am a GEM Fellow in order to make the most of my time in Graduate School. I aim to use the resources available to help me to excel academically, improve my abilities as a researcher, and prepare me for a career in industry.

One of the largest lessons I have learned at Virginia Tech is the importance of community. As a Hokie, you are a member of a large family that has your back and will support you both in good and bad times.

Jonathan Diaz-Ramos - Cohort 2021

Jonathan Diaz-Ramos

Masters, Electrical Engineering

Physics, College of William and Mary

You are given the platform to show the next generation of students that it is possible to continue your studies no matter where you come from.

Continuing the support First Gen. students receive at Virginia Tech will be a goal of mine.

Terryl Dodson - Cohort 2021

Terryl Dodson

Masters, Computer Science & Applications

Computer Science, University of Tennessee

I feel that being a GEM Fellow opens an individual up to more opportunities. Through GEM a student is able to attend graduate school for free which is a lot in itself. On top of that the student has an opportunity to work for an employer through GEM to gain experience within working in industry. This also opens a gateway to making new connections and potentially a full time job in the future.

While at Virginia Tech I hope to expand my knowledge within computer science through conducting research. I am excited in starting my journey at Virginia Tech and continuing to broaden my knowledge.

Victor Lopez - Cohort 2021

Victor Lopez

Masters, Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida

Simply applying for the GEM Fellowship opens up opportunities, even more so if selected. GEM has supported me during my application process for grad school. As a Masters applicant, funding was definitely a concern but GEM gave me options when choosing schools. On top of the financial support, being a GEM Fellow gives you access to a network of industry partners and other GEM members across the nation, opening up even more opportunities.

I hope to become a better researcher and mentor during my time at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is full of bright minds which I hope to work with and learn from.

Jorjie - Cohort 2021

Jorjie Wilson

Masters, Biomedical Engineering

Bioengineering, North Carolina A&T

Being a GEM fellow is a prestigious opportunity for underrepresented groups to take advantage of. GEM provides a great opportunity for funding, internships, and networking while furthering your education.

I hope to build great relationships while gaining more technical and verbal skills. Additionally, I hope to learn how to apply my research to real world applications in preparation for industry jobs.

Craig Wormack - Cohort 2021

Craig Wormack

Masters, Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering, Liberty University

The GEM fellowship program provides opportunities and connections in the engineering industry. GEM also provides funding for higher education such as a masters or PHD.

I hope to perform research related to machine learning or automation for my professional career.

Michael Bell - Cohort 2020

Michael Bell

Masters, Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering, North Carolina A&T

Being a GEM Fellow allows you the opportunity to explore diverse topics while working with people from various universities and companies. It opens numerous doors for students to expand their knowledge and establish a fulfilling research career.

I hope to gain a more detailed understanding of Civil Engineering. Additionally, I hope to forge last connections that will follow me throughout my professional and social life.

Jonathan Charleston Headshot - Cohort 2020

Jonathan Charleston

PhD, Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering, Kennesaw State University

The path to achieving my career goals became clearer by seeing the heights that GEM Alumni have achieved with the fellowship's support.

I have learned to access and build a network of people who genuinely believe in our success.

Adrian Davila - cohort 2020

Adrian Dávila

PhD, Materials Science and Engineering

Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston

I decided to apply for a GEM Fellowship because I wanted to attend graduate school for free and to make inroads at some of the top companies in my field. What I didn't expect though, was the value of joining such a large and welcoming network of fellow MS and PhD students and recipients. Every conference I've attended, professional society I've joined, company I've worked for, has had GEM Fellows. Although we have different backgrounds, we each have similar graduate school experiences as URM's in our chosen fields. Being able to reach out and connect or ask for advice from anyone within the GEM network has been invaluable and to me, is the greatest part of the GEM Fellowship Program.

I've learned a lot about my abilities to grow into a leader while at Virginia Tech (VT). I've been involved in many on-campus organizations and societies (SHPE, Tau Beta Pi, VT Men's Water Polo) and each has given me valuable leadership experiences which I hope to leverage in my future roles post graduation.

Wendell Grinton - Cohort 2020

Wendell Grinton

PhD, Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering, North Carolina A&T State University

Being a GEM Fellow has allowed me to network with countless young scholars, both in my area of expertise and outside!

Virginia Tech has given me the opportunity to network with countless individuals from various disciplines. Also, VT has given me the opportunity to travel and present my research all across the United States. Further, while attending VT, I've been able to make some lifetime friendships and partnerships!

Dwayne Jefferson - Cohort 2020

Dwayne Jefferson

PhD, Civil Engineering with a focus in Construction Engineering and Management

Civil Engineering, North Carolina A&T State University

GEM is a great opportunity to connect with other graduate-level researchers going through some of the same experiences as yourself. The industry side of the fellowship gives individuals the chance to connect with industry personnel and develop industry ties early in their careers.

Virginia Tech has given me the opportunity to grow more as a professional as well expressing my creativity throughout my projects regardless of them being research, classroom, or community. I hope to continue growing as a person in the coming years and improving my personality.

Daniel Keku Headshot - Cohort 2020

Daniel Keku

PhD, Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering, North Carolina A&T State University

Being a GEM Fellow allows the opportunity for me and my colleagues to meet with the top engineering and science firms and universities in the nation. Whether I'm studying at one of the universities, working for one of the GEM employers, or talking with other GEM students, I believe these experiences will be beneficial to everyone in their career path.

I have learned to be more open towards others and finding opportunities for my colleagues to interact outside of professional and academic spaces to know each other better. I have come to know most of my colleagues outside of these spaces in a vulnerable and welcoming atmosphere.

Yamilet Macias-Oihuela Headshot - Cohort 2020

Yamilet Macias-Orihuela

Masters, Biomedical Engineering

Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

Its the opportunity to be a part of a network of students in STEM that could be sources of inspiration and support.

How to be a mentor and advocate for the next generation of engineers. I would like to gain professional development in my specific field.

Albin Rosado - Cohort 2020

Albin Rosado

Masters, Civil Engineering (Geotechnical)

Civil Engineering, Lehigh University

Being a GEM fellow allowed me to find a university willing to help me fund my graduate education. The GEM fellowship also allowed me to connect with other GEM fellows who come from similar underrepresented backgrounds as myself. This is very important for me as it helps me not to experience imposter syndrome.

In the geotechnical engineering program of the civil engineering department here at Virginia Tech, aside from learning various topics in geotechnical engineering, I have developed my skills to write technical reports and to present on technical topics. These are important but often overlooked skills to have when going to work in the industry.

Bryant Springle - Cohort 2020

Bryant Springle

Masters, Aerospace Engineering

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, (SUNY) University at Buffalo

Being a GEM Fellow sets you up for success if entering a new environment while going into higher education. It allows an individual to meet like-minded students, get access to networking events, and become a part of a community that actively offers help and advice that will keep you on a path that focuses on academics and/or research.

I have gained a lot of experience in my focus that will allow me to sell myself in future job interviews. There is still another year left in my program where I hope to gain even more experience in my focus, become more confident in myself and my abilities, and succeed overall in my own personal and professional goals that I have set for myself.

Charles Sterling Headshot - Cohort 2020

Charles Sterling

PhD, Biological Systems Engineering

Biological Engineering, North Carolina A&T University

It offers an incredible opportunity for career development! I’ll be well equipped to join the corporate world after I graduate.

I hope to gain more knowledge about the inner workings of industry.

Aileen Suarez - Cohort 2020

Aileen Suarez

PhD, Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech

GEM has helped me attend graduate school in a program that actually cares about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It has given me great opportunities for networking and community building.

Virginia Tech has shown me the strength in community and how graduate school is not a solitary journey. You need to lean on others to keep on the path to success.

Zach Boykin - Cohort 2019

Zach Boykin

PhD, Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering, Clemson University

I wanted to be a GEM Fellow to connect with other incredible scholars who look like me!

Rafael Chontos - cohort 2019

Rafael Chontos

Masters, Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

The GEM Fellowship secured funding for my graduate school education while also providing resources to help me throughout my experience as a masters student. The GEM Fellowship offers a chance to meet other graduate students. They were also helpful when I ultimately decided to switch to a PhD in Engineering Mechanics instead of continuing with my masters degree.

I learned about how to right papers in graduate school and I'm currently learning how to use LS-Dyna for the purposes of creating Finite Element Models.

Cory Ilo - Cohort 2019

Cory Ilo

PhD, Computer Science

Computer Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology

Funding! Besides that, I've gained a network of friends trailblazing through the same struggles that I will inevitably have to face. Community is key. No one makes it alone and through GEM I've gained support dedicated to seeing me succeed.

I hope to develop the skills needed to be a world-class researcher.

David Kormos - Cohort 2019

David Kormos

PhD, Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering, Ohio State University

Being a GEM fellow allows for a community of other students going through the same/similar experiences.

I have gained so much from working with Dr. Linsey Marr and others in the Environmental Engineering department about working for the benefit of others in the community.

Kingsley Nwosu Headshot - Cohort 2019

Kingsley Nwosu

Masters, Computer Science

Computer Science, Saint Leo University

Funding and networking opportunities are the two main reasons to be a GEM Fellow. Not having to worry about securing funding semester-by-semester is nice. Also, the GEM community is great.

I developed both academically and personally at Virginia Tech. I learned more about what I'm interested in and what I'm not interested in.

Alberto Post - Cohort 2019

Alberto Post

Masters, Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering, Virginia Tech

GEM has been a great resource to me by connecting me to the New Horizons Graduate Scholars program here at Virginia Tech.

Through my graduate program at Virginia Tech, I have furthered my education in aerospace engineering and had the opportunity to work on both the engineering and social hurdles that face the new and emerging field of commercial UAS.

Kathryn Lopez - Cohort 2018

Kathryn Lopez

PhD, Environmental Engineering

Chemical Engineering, Florida State University

The GEM program opened up many doors for me and made my goal of attending graduate school more feasible by reducing application costs and guaranteeing funding. The GEM community is also vibrant and welcoming and I am grateful to be a part of it.

Throughout graduate school, I have learned more about the field of environmental engineering and drinking water quality as expected. What I did not expect but am grateful for is that I also became aware of alternative career paths, explored more about my identity, and built friendships that will last a lifetime.

Joshua Pulliam - Cohort 2018

Joshua Pulliam

PhD, Engineering Mechanics

Applied Physics; Mechanical Engineering, Morehouse College; Auburn University

The GEM Fellowship provides the opportunity to fund and network within graduate level studies, with a focus on forwarding minority growth and achievement in these fields. It connects you to people and positions that will help format the pathway for your career, all with the knowledge that others within the Fellowship understand what it means to be a minority within graduate studies. Being a GEM Fellow offers funding, fellowship, and a brighter future. It is well worth becoming one.

I came directly from an undergraduate program into a PhD program. While I had research experience prior to arriving, adapting quickly was imperative. While there were, of course, the scholastic as well as technical aspects of research that had to be rapidly absorbed, what I feel I've truly learned is an appreciation for independence. A PhD program has afforded me the chance to put forward the work that fascinates me and allow it to format my career. I have Virginia Tech, in large part, to thank for that.

Katrina Colucci-Chang - Cohort 2017

Katrina Colucci-Chang

PhD, Biomedical Engineering

Bioengineering, George Mason University

The reason to be a GEM Fellow is because it creates a sense of community for a world that was not designed for under-represented population. Also it gives for an opportunity for you to change from gem associate to full fellow.

I hope to learn analytical and critical thinking skills in a engineering school. Plus I hope to expand my network since Virginia Tech alumni are in many job fields.

Kimberly Harry - Cohort 2017

Kimberly Harry

PhD, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Industrial Engineering, Cal Poly

As a GEM Fellow you will be well-supported for a successful and impactful career in STEM.

I have learned to persevere and work relentlessly to achieve my goals.

Sector Zilevu - Cohort 2017 and 2019

Setor Zilevu

PhD, Computer Science

Computer Engineering, Virginia Tech

Being a GEM Fellow is a remarkable experience. The GEM network is genuinely like no other. There are so many talented GEM Fellows that push and motivate you along the graduate school journey. In addition, there are a strong support system and provides so many opportunities and benefits both personally and professionally.

I feel immense gratitude towards GEM and Virginia Tech. Throughout my journey as a graduate student at both the Master’s and Ph.D. levels, both GEM and Virginia Tech have provided the motivation, encouragement, and resources to allow me to complete my graduate degree to the best of my abilities. The skill sets, resources, and overall experience throughout these years have honestly been remarkable.

Ryan Banks - Cohort 2015

Ryan Banks

PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering

There are opportunities that become available to you and you become a part of a prestigious organization.

I have learned that your path through school is not a linear or a straight line but enjoy the ride the best you can.

Brian Cesar-Tondreau Headshot - Cohort 2015

Brian Cesar-Tondreau

PhD, Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology

The connections to potential employers and accomplished researchers in your field of study are an invaluable benefit that comes with being a GEM Fellow.

I hope to gain a PhD in Computer engineering from my time at Virginia Tech.

Adam Lowery - Cohort 2015

Adam Lowery

PhD, Mechanical Engineering

Physics; Mechanical Engineering, Lincoln University; Cornell University

Being a GEM fellow will place an aspiring professional at the intersection of academia and industry. GEM also allows you to hone professional development skills needed for the transition from grad school.

I've learned that as a graduate student you must become comfortable advocating for yourself, because there is no guarantee anyone else will.