By MIDN 1/C Whitney Morey
President of the USNA National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
On October 18th my chapter and I had the opportunity to host the Terror Zone Summit, a mini-conference open to all members from chapters in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The summit provided members with a variety of workshops, a lunch-and-learn session, community service, and networking opportunities to the local membership. Though our collegiate chapter has been active since the early 2000s, this was the first chance that our Naval Academy chapter has had the opportunity to truly showcase our school, Navy careers, and most importantly, our community outreach.
Members arrived at the conference from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland-College Park, and University of Maryland-Baltimore County, as well as the Potomac, Southern, and Baltimore professional chapters. The summit commenced with an opening session, detailing allowing members to introduce themselves.
The first sessions began separating the junior members from the collegiate and professionals. The junior members were engaged and very interested in their College 101 session where collegiate members paired with junior members to provide advice on what to expect in college, the college application process, the pursuit of STEM majors, and participation in NSBE while in college in order to receive the support and mentorship to succeed and excel in their majors.
Meanwhile, the collegiate students received information from the professional members on chapter empowerment. They discussed how to motivate and energize their respective chapters in order to decrease membership attrition and increase volunteer outreach, conference and convention attendance, and collaboration with other chapters in order to lend support.
Following the morning sessions, we took a break for lunch where I spoke about the community efforts of the Naval Academy, educated attendees on the Naval Academy lifestyle, and provided application information to the NSBE junior members to generate interest in applying.
The afternoon sessions consisted of collegiate and professional panels, as well as a professionals mixer and tours of the Yard. The middle school-aged students and ninth graders were ecstatic to see the school and learn more about the academy and the opportunities afforded to its students. While they toured, the high school and collegiate members separated into breakout groups in different classrooms where they were able to learn from the professionals about leadership skills, pursuit of STEM careers, graduate school application and selection, and transition from military to civilian sector jobs.
We ended with a closing session where much positive feedback was shared regarding the summit, including the professionalism of the midshipmen, the well-spoken public speakers who held panels and sessions, the informative tours provided by the midshipman escorts, the close proximity of breakout groups to the main Mahan Hall, and the beauty and organization of the buildings and classrooms.
The summit was an opportunity for the USNA chapter to establish itself to many of the regional chapters. Additionally, we made great networking connections with the professional chapters of Potomac and Southern who work with Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Air Systems Command as civilian contractors. Overall the event was a great success.