Three minority students from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) are featured in a public television documentary about the National Action Council for Minorities in Education (NACME), a nonprofit group whose mission is to increase the number of minority engineers.
The three NJIT students in the film, broadcast on Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS), all received scholarships and internships from NACME. The three also belong to NJIT’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which also helps minorities receive technological degrees.
(Editor’s Note: To interview one or all of the students, please call Robert Florida at 973 596-5203.)
The cost of obtaining an engineering degree, the film notes, often discourages minority students. Although minorities constitute 18 percent of the college population, only one percent of all engineering graduates are minorities.
But that’s not the case at NJIT, where hundreds of minority students, including 50 NACME scholarship students, pursue engineering and technological degrees. The three students in the film – Juan Calles, of Union City, Anita Hurtado and Dimple Amleshvarwala, both of Jersey City – are on the cusp of success.
Calles, an NJIT senior majoring in computer engineering, says in the film that his parents emigrated to American from El Salvador. He’s the second child in his family and if not for NACME, he could not have afforded college. Now, four years later, he’s a not only a successful NJIT student but a role model. As a leader of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineer’s student chapter, Calles visits high schools, encouraging other minority students to consider studying engineering. “Just today,” Calles said, “I visited my old high school, Emerson in Union City, which is like 90 percent Hispanic. I told them they must go to college, that they can be engineers if they want it.”
Anita Hurtado, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, said NACME was an immense help to her. Her father is Colombian and her mother is El Salvadorian; neither graduated from college and she is the first in her family to attend college. “If not for NACME I would not be at NJIT,” she said. Her SAT scores were not high, but NACME used alternative assessment techniques to realize she was an adept problem solver. During the summer before her freshman year, she attended NACME’s immersion program in math and physics, brushing up her academic skills. And it wasn’t only academics that NACME instilled into her. “NACME helped me realize how much I could do,” she said. “It made me see that even though I was a minority woman, I could still achieve my goals.”
Dimple Amleshvarwala, a senior majoring in computer science, has had internships at Sony Electronics, in San Diego, Calif., and at the Boeing Company in Bellevue, Wash. – thanks to NACME.
She lives in Jersey City with her parents, educated and hard-working immigrants from India. Being a NACME scholar, for her, means free tuition, intense tutoring and great summer internships. And though she’s still a student, because of the above experiences, she has a job lined up with a management-consulting firm.
“I was very fortunate to have a NACME scholarship at NJIT,” she said. It lessened the burden of tuition and loans and allowed me to succeed academically.”