At the end of last year, Dave Yankovitz and Kenneth Woolridge, who represent FOSSI sponsor Deloitte and who both specialize in chemicals, materials, and downstream, sat down with scholars Keliy Haynes and Kaila White to hear about their first semester in college and their thoughts on the FOSSI program. Keliy attends Bethune Cookman University and is majoring in chemistry. Kaila attends North Carolina A&T State University and just switched her major from biomedical engineering to chemical engineering.
Deloitte: How are things going for you this first semester?
Kaila: My semester went very well. I learned to focus more. I learned not to follow the crowd and am more disciplined about my studies. I finished with all As and one B. My favorite class this semester was my Chemical Lab and I enjoyed the hands on work.
Keliy: Both my best and most challenging experience has been how to handle people with different personalities and backgrounds. I was able to meet a small group of people who became my support system. We are all dedicated, focused and like-minded. Classes went well. I finished with a 4.0. and I connected with the athletics media team and begin taking photos at the college football games. My concern is transportation. I am trying to make the best of not having a car!
Deloitte: How is it being paired with a corporate sponsor? How can we best help you?
Kaila: I just received another scholarship, the Target Scholarship. I now have two companies keeping up with me. I must admit there is a lot of pressure on me, because I do not want to disappoint my corporate sponsors and want to maintain my scholarships. However, the benefit of having someone in my corner outweighs the pressure. It is cool knowing I have sponsors looking out for me.
Keliy: The biggest thing right now is sponsor-provided opportunities that will help me build my resume and get exposure/experience. I understand my major is super broad, so I would appreciate getting exposure to a variety of different areas pertaining to my major.
Deloitte: What are your overall thoughts of the FOSSI program?
Kaila: FOSSI is going well. I like the webinars and mentoring. I think the program is good and it is providing mentorship and career planning resources.
Keliy: I have a great appreciation for the whole endeavor to connect underrepresented minorities with companies like Deloitte. I think it was a super outstanding idea to create that support. So far, so good and I am looking forward to more meetings and interactions in the year ahead.
Deloitte: After this first semester experience, has your passion to pursue a degree in a STEM-related field changed?
Kaila: After the first semester, my passion grew because I did so well in my chemistry class. My confidence grew and I know now that I can do this. I switched my major because I felt there would be more opportunities and chemical engineering fits my career choice of environmental protection. Being from Maryland, I know how important the Chesapeake Bay is to the local ecosystem and I am also familiar with the pollution problem with the Chesapeake Bay. My goal is to learn how to clean out the bay and improve the marine life and overall ecosystem. I would then expand my success globally to places like India.
Keliy: Yes, the passion has increased. I appreciate what I have learned so far, and this semester showed me that I am good at it. I am certain that I will keep this major all 4 years because I love chemistry and I am doing well in it. I also feel it will prepare me for chiropractor school. When I was younger, I had the beginning stages of scoliosis, so my mom took me to a chiropractor who was able to work with me to straighten my back and walk up right. This experience jump started my passions for chiropractic and holistic care.
Deloitte: Has your perspective on HBCUs changed since you have completed a semester?
Kaila: Yes, somewhat. A&T is a great school. It is the largest HBCU producer of Black Engineers mainly because it is the largest HBCU. The culture is centered around the school. A lot of individuals spoke about A&T being great simply because it is A&T. After this first semester, I am learning for myself why A&T is great. At A&T, I am surrounded with like-minded people who support me. It’s been cool and fun attending A&T. Both my mom and dad attended HBCUs. My father and uncle attended North Carolina A&T. My mother started at Howard University and finished at North Carolina Central.
Keliy Haynes: I did not know much when I came in. I really did not have many expectations or anticipations; I just wanted to see what everything would be like. I like it. My school is very small, but they really support me. I do not need a bunch of big classrooms where you are just a number, and I like having more personal sessions with my professors. I feel like it is even better than I expected because I have had that rapport with my teachers.
In the coming year, Deloitte hopes to have Keliy and Kalia visit their offices and participate in company events that will help them get a better understanding of who Deloitte is culturally and how a corporation works. In the future, they hope to offer them hands-on opportunities at Deloitte.