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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2023

NSWCDD Hosts Black History Month Observance to Highlight Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities on the Scientific Communities

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

In honor of Black History Month, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) hosted an observance to highlight the impact of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) on the scientific communities, Feb. 22.

NSWCDD Deputy Technical Director Darren Barnes opened the event with welcoming remarks to the in-person and virtual audiences. He stressed the importance of HBCUs to the scientific community. “It's an important discussion, not just recognizing Black History Month, but HBCUs. And those aren't just hollow words,” Barnes said. “But this distinguished panel this morning is a good example of why those partnerships are important.”

Sherry Springs, Ph.D., from the Integrated Combat Systems Department, began the discussion with some relevant statistics about HBCUs. “HBCUs have produced 80% of the nation's Black judges, as well as half of the Black doctors and lawyers,” Springs shared. “HBCUs across the nation have accounted for much of the progress in workforce diversity, with 25% of Black graduates with science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees coming from HBCUs.”

Five participants from different departments across NSWCDD who graduated from HBCUs were asked to participate in the Q&A portion of the event. Panelists had the opportunity to introduce themselves and share about their HBCU.

After the introductions, the audience asked a range of questions like why the panelists chose to go to an HBCU, how HBCUs shaped their professional careers and how NSWCDD could better support HBCUs.

Computer engineer Vandy Jones IV of Virginia State University who works in the Integrated Combat Systems Department, spoke about how HBCUs have influenced him at NSWCDD. “I think that HBCUs can instill in you a trait of empathy that you can use as a leader throughout the rest of your career,” Jones said. “Sometimes people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The other panelists included scientist Gilbert Harper from North Carolina A&T who works in the Strategic and Computing Systems Department, scientist Desmond Ellsworth from Norfolk State University who works in the Electromagnetic and Sensor Systems Department, Willie Crank Jr. of Hampton University who works as a mission analyst in the Warfare Analysis and Digital Modeling Department and Cooperative Engagement Capability Engineering Branch head Alicia Wilkerson representing Virginia Union University from the Integrated Combat Systems Department.