Minority Students Realize 'Professional Dreams' While Strengthening US Navy

by Warren Duffie Jr.
U.S. Navy

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- When describing how he benefited from an internship through the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions (HBCU/MI) Program, Devan Addison-Turner didn’t hold back.

“This internship was the first step in realizing my professional dreams and goals,” said Addison-Turner, a senior at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. “The Navy’s reaching out to HBCUs and minority-serving institutions is important, because there are a lot of talented students and faculty who can make valuable contributions to the Navy’s mission.”

Addison-Turner, 21, moderated a student-focused discussion panel at the DoN HBCU/MI Program’s 3rd annual Naval Opportunity Awareness Workshop (OAW), recently at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta.

The workshop was aimed at university and college presidents, vice presidents, provosts, faculty, staff and students from HBCU/MIs. It highlighted research opportunities within the Navy and Marine Corps, summer faculty/sabbatical research opportunities, student internships and scholarships.

This year marked the debut of the student discussion panel, which resulted from feedback from previous attendees who said they wanted to hear from their peers about the rewards of internships within the Navy and Marine Corps.

For example, Addison-Turner - who is studying civil engineering - described his internship experience in 2017 at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command location in Washington, D.C. Most of his projects involved design and project-management work for naval hospitals and medical centers.

“There aren’t a lot of organizations or companies that really get as hands-on with students’ [development] as the Navy,” he said. “The Navy pairs students with mentors who treat you like family. That helped me develop valuable skills that I can carry with me as I continuously progress.”

The yearly OAW provides a critical platform for direct engagement between the Department of the Navy and key stakeholders, potential grantees and future partners. It serves as a recruitment tool to get more HBCU/MI faculty involved in naval-relevant scientific research - and attract students to internships.

“The goal is to help students, faculty and administrators realize that the opportunities with the Navy are limitless,” said Anthony C. Smith Sr., director of the DoN HBCU/MI Program. “Not only will the Navy’s university partners benefit, but so will the warfighter -because we’re reaching out to people who can think outside of the box and offer diverse perspectives on solving naval science and technology challenges.”

The DoN HBCU/MI Program is based at the Office of Naval Research, with the mission of discovering some of the best and brightest minds at HBCU/MIs. The program has three main goals:

1. Expand opportunities for schools to successfully compete for grants and contracts in basic and applied research.

2. Offer scholarships, fellowships and internships to students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies.

3. Promote greater student interest in STEM degrees at HBCU/MIs.

Watch a video about the 2018 Naval Opportunity Awareness Workshop.

Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.

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For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit www.navy.mil/local/onr/.

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