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Graduate Ambassadors

The Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) Graduate Ambassadors program is a prestigious group of highly motivated, dedicated, and spirited graduate students who assist with recruiting efforts for underrepresented students. They represent a variety of academic fields and serve as official student representatives for the CEED Office.  Our CEED Ambassadors support potential graduate students to Virginia Tech by providing information and participating in recruitment activities that include:serving on a student panel to answer questions from prospective students (A Step to the Doctorate Institute); assisting the College of Engineering with Yield Events; hosting individuals and groups by talking about campus life and the resources available to College of Engineering graduate students; promoting and supporting the Torgersen Awards.

Headshot of Tolulope Adesoji

Tolulope Adesoji
Environmental Design and Planning, PhD
Graduating Fall 2024

“I became a CEED Ambassador with the aim of representing international students. My goal is to be their voice, ensuring they feel a sense of belonging and ease throughout their pursuit of a degree.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: Quantity Surveying, Joseph Ayo Babalola University

Hobbies: Tennis, Reading, Cooking, Hiking and Kayaking

Headshot of Oreoluwa Alabi

Oreoluwa Alabi
Engineering Mechanics, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

"I wanted to become a CEED ambassador so I could be a source of encouragement and community to underrepresented students as they navigated graduate school."

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

Hobbies: Soccer, Reading

Headshot of Mariama Alidu

Mariama  Alidu
Chemical engineering , PhD
Graduating Spring 2027

“Many brilliant individuals find it challenging to comprehend the path to entering graduate school. I believe that my involvement as an Ambassador holds significance, as it helps streamline the array of choices individuals have, guiding them towards Virginia Tech. By showcasing the excellence of our community, I highlight how Virginia Tech prioritizes both academic success and mental well-being.”

Hometown: Kumasi, Ghana

Undergraduate Degree: BSc. Petrochemical Engineering , Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology,  Ghana

Hobbies: Running, Watching Movies in the Theatre.

Headshot of Festus Animah

Festus Animah
Mining and Minerals Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2024

“I am a firm advocate for diversity and inclusion, and I am committed to assisting CEED in enhancing the enrollment of underrepresented students in engineering at the VT graduate school. My ultimate goal is to facilitate a smoother transition for incoming students by offering them the necessary support to effectively acclimate in their new environment.”

Hometown: Bolgatanga, Ghana

Undergraduate Degree: Geomatic Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology

Hobbies: Basketball, soccer and travelling

Headshot of Audra Barnes

Audra Barnes
Biomedical Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

"I became a CEED grad ambassador to help support and form community with other underrepresented students. Also, to share my story on my transition to grad school.”

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Undergraduate Degree: Florida A&M University, Biomedical Engineering

Hobbies: Traveling, trying new restaurants, hiking, cooking, baking

Headshot of Adrian Baron Hyppolite

Adrian Baron-Hyppolite
Electrical and Computer  Engineering, Master of Science
Graduating Fall 2023

“I am the product of those who have shown up for me, and now it is my turn to pay it forward and show up for others. For this reason, I wanted to become a CEED Graduate Ambassador. I want to be an example to underrepresented students that we belong in grad-level academia.”

Hometown: New Orleans, United States

Undergraduate Degree: Computer Science, Morehouse College

Hobbies: I play soccer, read, watch football, and workout

Headshot of Odunayo Bolarinwa

Odunayo Bolarinwa
Industrial Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2026

“As a Black female Engineering student at Virginia Tech, I became a Graduate Ambassador for CEED because I wanted to contribute by offering support and guidance to other students from similar backgrounds. By sharing my experiences as a member of an underrepresented group in engineering, I aimed to be a mentor and a role model for other students who might have been facing similar challenges or barriers to success”

Hometown: Oyo State, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: Industrial and Production Engineering, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Hobbies: Dance, organize events and help people

Headshot of Julia Brisbane

Julia Brisbane
Engineering Education, PhD
Graduating Spring 2023

"I became a CEED ambassador to interact with underrepresented students along their graduate school journey and share my authentic experiences of being a student at Virginia Tech."

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

Undergraduate Degree: Clemson University, Bioengineering

Hobbies: Reading, baking, crocheting, and hanging out with my cat named Milkshake

Headshot of Jacqueline Chavez Orellana

Jacqueline Chavez Orellana
Industrial and Systems Engineering, PhD
Graduating May 2025

“Representation matters. I want to encourage and help other first generation students like me, to find and fill up spaces to lift up our voices.”

Hometown: San Miguel, El Salvador

Undergraduate Degree: Biomedical Engineering , Virginia Commonwealth University

Hobbies: Walks with my two dogs and exercise.

Headshot of Avery Cunningham

Avery Cunningham
Industrial & Systems Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

“I wanted to become a CEED Graduate Ambassador to help create a sense of community for underrepresented students at Virginia Tech. My hope is that by sharing my own personal journey, passing along the knowledge I was able to obtain from mentors of my own, and being a resource for students who may have questions about their own journey, I can make a positive impact in the lives of others as they work to become future STEM professionals!”

Hometown: Galloway, NJ, United States

Undergraduate Degree: Electronics Engineering, Norfolk State University

Hobbies: Watching/playing basketball, listening to music, traveling, exercising, and spending time with my family!

Headshot of Lavern Currie

Levern Currie
Industrial and Systems Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

"I became a CEED Ambassador to help students navigate grad school at Tech. I want to share the knowledge and experiences I've gained in order to give them the advice, tools and resources they need to be successful."

Hometown: Woodbridge, VA

Undergraduate Degree: George Mason University, Human Factors Psychology

Hobbies: BJJ/MMA, climbing, going to the gym, I like to cook, I enjoy tending to my animals and I am the CEO of a tech startup

Headshot of Ndidi Eyegheleme

Ndidi Eyegheleme
Mechanical Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2024

“This would be my third year as a CEED ambassador , and I have loved meeting and connecting with underrepresented groups interested in STEM. And offering them support in transitioning to Virginia Tech and/or the U.S.A., which is the reason I joined CEED.”

Hometown: Azagba, Delta, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: University of Ilorin, Nigeria, Mechanical Engineering

Hobbies: Reading fiction, travelling, mentoring in research, eating spicy food.

Headshot of Wendell Grinton

Wendell Grinton, Jr.
Civil Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2024

“I chose to continue to be a Graduate Ambassador for CEED to help underrepresented scholars realize and flourish into the trailblazers they were meant to be.”

Hometown: Harmony, NC, USA

Undergraduate Degree: Civil Engineering, NC A&T

Hobbies: VT intramural sports, pickup basketball, flag football, weightlifting, spending quality time with my girlfriend and our golden doodle Winston, spending quality time with family and friends, binge watching Netflix or Youtube

Headshot of De Yana Hines

De'Yana  Hines
Biomedical Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2026

“I became an ambassador because I wanted to meet people outside of my department. It's been great building relationships with students from different walks of life. ”

Hometown: Dublin, Georgia

Undergraduate Degree: Biological Engineering, University of Georgia

Hobbies: Escape rooms, cosplay, video games, pickleball, dancing, and karaoke

Headshot of James Kaindu

Jimmy Kaindu
Mechanical Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

"I have been a part of the hokie community since 2016. I have participated in Galileo, STEP, CEED workshops etc. I want to be an ambassador so I can give back to the community."

Hometown: Lusaka, Zambia

Undergraduate Degree: Virginia Tech, Mechanical Engineering

Hobbies: Traveling, Climbing, Hiking, Soccer, Live Music

Headshot of Victor Lopez

Victor Lopez
Biomedical Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

“Being the first in my family to pursue a PhD, there was a lot I didn’t know and wish I would have known going into grad school. CEED has been a tremendous help in helping me navigate my PhD journey. I wanted to provide that same support for new students so that they don’t make my same mistakes.”

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Undergraduate Degree: University of Florida, Biomedical Engineering

Hobbies: Anything outdoorsy (kayaking, hiking, etc.), running, intramural sports, board games

Headshot of Larry Luster

Larry Luster
Chemical Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2026

“I wanted to become a graduate ambassador to provide much needed representation for students with similar backgrounds to me. I am a firm believer that "in order to be one, they must see one", and wanted to take this opportunity to make the path easier for someone else. ”

Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama, United States

Undergraduate Degree: Chemical Engineering, Hampton University

Hobbies: Disc golf, cooking, playing piano, records/CDs, cigars, video games

Headshot of Amarachi Madu

Amarachi Madu
Computer Science and Applications, PhD
Graduating Fall 2024

“I assumed the role of a CEED ambassador with the intention of using my distinct experiences as a means of motivating underrepresented groups to triumph in their academic journeys. My objective is not only to offer encouragement but also to actively contribute to diversity and inclusion initiatives at VT by actively engaging in the recruitment of underrepresented individuals. Becoming a CEED ambassador serves as a platform for extending mentorship to these students, providing them with guidance and support. Ultimately, my involvement is a meaningful way for me to give back to the community that has shaped me.”

Hometown: Imo State, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: Mathematics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria

Hobbies: Reading, writing, traveling, baking and mentoring.

Headshot of Angello Murekye

Angello Murekye
Civil Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

“Having received my bachelor's degree in 2010 and master's degree in 2016, I wanted to encourage already practicing professionals from underrepresented groups to return to graduate school and complete their education because it is never too late.”

Hometown: Kampala, Uganda

Undergraduate Degree: Civil Engineering, Kyambogo University, Kampala-Uganda

Hobbies: Reading history, watching news, traveling to new places, and spending time with family

Headshot of Cassidy Nelson

Cassidy Nelson
Industrial and Systems Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2024

“I became a graduate ambassador for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity because I am deeply passionate about promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. I believe that a diverse, equitable, and inclusive engineering community fosters innovation, creativity, and a wider range of perspectives, which are all crucial for solving complex real-world challenges. I want to pay it forward and help the next wave of students join me as colleagues.”

Hometown: McPherson, KS, United States

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in Psychology, University of Kansas

Hobbies: Watching documentaries, hiking, playing games, reading, spending quality time with my dog Lucy

Headshot of Mohamed Nour

Mohamed  Nour
Chemical Engineering, Master of Science
Graduating Spring 2024

“I became a CEED Graduate Ambassador to support underrepresented students as they transition into graduate school and contribute to the inclusion and diversity efforts of COE”

Hometown: Muscat, Oman

Undergraduate Degree: Chemical Engineering, American University of Sharjah, UAE

Hobbies: Soccer, Traveling, Gaming

Headshot of Tolulope Odimayomi

Tolulope Odimayomi
Civil & Environmental Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2024

"I was excited to become a CEED grad ambassador to support underrepresented students in their unique graduate school experience and help foster a Virginia Tech community that feels like home."

Hometown: Westfield, Indiana

Undergraduate Degree: Purdue University, Chemical Engineering

Hobbies: Puzzles, Sewing, Hiking, Sand Volleyball, Watching live theater

Headshot of Ogunleye Makanjuola

Makanjuola Ogunleye
Computer Science, PhD
Graduating Summer 2024

“I desire to contribute to the expansion of the diversity efforts and initiatives of CEED, particularly in increasing the representation of people of color in the College of Engineering at VT as well as improving the overall experience of underrepresented students”

Hometown: Virginia, United States

Undergraduate Degree: Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Hobbies: Soccer, Ping Pong, Reading

Headshot of Aanuoluwapo Ojelade

Aanuoluwapo Ojelade
Industrial and Systems Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2023

“I became a CEED Ambassador to help underrepresented students navigate graduate school here at Virginia Tech. I want to share my wealth of experiences and knowledge that I have gained over time and help them navigate any difficult situations. ”

Hometown: Osogbo, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: Civil Engineering, Osun State University, Nigeria

Hobbies: Running, Cooking

Headshot of Ann Osi

Ann Osi
Industrial and Systems Engineering , PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

“I want to help students navigate the challenges of graduate school and cultivate meaningful experiences”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: Chemical Engineering , University of Lagos, Nigeria

Hobbies: Travel

Headshot of Jah Shawn Ross

Jah'Shawn Ross
Electrical Engineering, Master of Science
Graduating Fall 2024

“I became a CEED Ambassador because when I was growing up, I did not know any Engineers, let alone anyone pursuing a graduate education. I would like to be an example to others who come from similar situations and people who are passionate about engineering.”

Hometown: Durham, NC, United States

Undergraduate Degree: Physics, North Carolina Central University

Hobbies: Playing Basketball, Gym, Gaming

Headshot of Bethlehem Worku Sahile

Bethlehem Worku Sahile
Civil Engineering , Master of Science
Graduating Fall 2024

“I intended to help underrepresented graduate students as they navigate the College of Engineering. Being a part of CEED will allow me to foster a sense of belongingness and diversity for graduate students from various backgrounds. ”

Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Undergraduate Degree: Civil Engineering, Addis Ababa University

Hobbies: Exploring new places, Hiking, Reading and Local meetups

Headshot of Bhavika Sharma

Bhavika  Sharma
Aerospace Engineering, Master of Engineering
Graduating 2024 Spring

“I became a Graduate Ambassador for CEED to promote women in STEM. To provide mentorship to students with my knowledge and experience and help give back to the community.”

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Undergraduate Degree: Mechanical Engineering and MSc. Chemistry, BITS Pilani, India

Hobbies: Basketball, dancing, watching TV shows and trying new cuisines

Headshot of Juan Shiraishi

Juan Diego Shiraishi Lombard
Materials Science and Engineering, PhD
Graduating Fall 2023

“I want to support students in accessing and making the most out of their time in graduate education. It can be a transformative experience if you make it one!”

Hometown: Denver, CO, USA

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Science - Materials Science and Engineering, Lehigh University

Hobbies: I DJ, workout at the boxing gym, dance salsa, play soccer, watch anime, make food (mostly desserts), and hang out with friends.

Headshot of Karen Solozano Gonzales

Karen Solorzano Gonzalez
Industrial & Systems Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2025

“I want to be able to share my experience with incoming graduate students and be able to help them out in the process of starting grad school.”

Hometown: Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Undergraduate Degree: Industrial Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

Hobbies: Play guitar, read

Headshot of Axel Soto

Axel Soto
Civil Engineering , Master of Science
Graduating Spring 2024

“I became a Graduate Ambassador for CEED because I want to share my story on how I managed to overcome academic challenges with resources provided to me by CEED, and also give back to the program. ”

Hometown: Bradenton, FL, USA

Undergraduate Degree: Civil Engineering , Florida State University

Hobbies: I love any activity that involves being active. It may be training for an upcoming race, or just staying healthy. I am also a big foodie so I tend to try exotic foods when I get the opportunity.

Headshot of Sunday Ubur

Sunday Ubur
Computer Science, PhD
Graduating Spring 2026

“I was inspired to join CEED to network with faculty and students, and more importantly, to contribute towards improving diversity at Virginia Tech.”

Hometown: Benue, Nigeria

Undergraduate Degree: Computer Science, University of Abuja, Nigeria

Hobbies: Biking, Reading, and Watching Soccer

Headshot of Manhua Wang

Manhua  Wang
Industrial and Systems Engineering, PhD
Graduating Spring 2024

“I want to become a Graduate Ambassador for CEED to support underrepresented students and help them succeed in grad school. I would like to contribute my personal experiences and the knowledge that I gained along my journey to the community”

Hometown: Yinchuan, China

Undergraduate Degree: Psychology, Zhejiang University

Hobbies: Hiking, Boardgames, Playing with dogs

Headshot of Jorjie Wilson

Jorjie Wilson
Biomedical Engineering, Master of Science
Graduating May 2023

“I want to share my experiences being a graduate student and be a representation for students who are underrepresented.”

Hometown: Raleigh, NC, US

Undergraduate Degree: Bioengineering, NC A&T State University

Hobbies: exercise, paint, shop, try new restaurants

Headshot of Amirah Wright

Amirah Wright
Biomedical Engineering, PhD
Graduating Fall 2024

“I wanted to show people of color that they can attend grad school too and that people that look like them exist in these spaces. I also wanted them to see that there is a community here built for them to succeed.”

Hometown: Gainesville, VA, United States

Undergraduate Degree: Biomedical Engineering, University of Miami

Hobbies: Reading, Traveling, Cooking, Listening to Music