After 5 years of experiencing actual seasons, participating in open-mic and poetry nights, and enjoying the many outdoor activities Raleigh has to offer, Yasmine Connor will be checking one of her greatest accomplishments off her list: graduating from NC State. And quite frankly, going out with a bang, as she prepares to be the student speaker representing all her peers at the university graduation ceremony May 13th at the PNC Arena.
Sitting at her favorite spot on campus, The Court of North Carolina, Yasmine lights up as she speaks about her hometown St. Croix in the Virgin Islands- “84 square miles of US territory with vibrant culture, breathtaking scenery, typical island life, hiking and kayaking.” Though she calls home her favorite place on Earth, she’s adamant about not returning until she’s explored other parts of the world, eager to constantly test her comfort zone.
As she prepares for her next adventure in Michigan to work for General Motors, she is grateful for the place she’s called home for the past 5 years, NC State. “Raleigh is the transition between St. Croix and the cold of Michigan”. Not only will the experience of seasons and cold winters at State help with her new move, but she also stresses how her stay here was the first of many where she’s been forced to step out of her comfort zone (more than geographically). For many of us, going off to college challenges what we know, what we don’t know, and how to respond and interact with diverse situations and individuals.
MEP (Minority Engineering Programs) was a huge help in Yasmine’s first years away from the islands, and adapting to the undeniable southern culture at NCSU. In fact, one of the reasons she chose our university was a recommendation from an alumnus who emphasized MEP, and told Yasmine that she must join the WolfPack and work with Miss Angie Daniel, Director of MEP. Once Yasmine experienced the programs here at the university that would provide support in her education, she immediately made the commitment to be part of The Pack.
“I chose State because of its supportive environment. The campus seemed diverse and inclusive, and this helped make my decision to attend easier,” Yasmine confirms. She goes on explaining that she believes NCSU is a diverse campus and minorities who transition into the workforce will excel. However, she also believes there are diversity issues that remain and need to stay in the light and be continually addressed. She’s hopeful that with time, exposure, and the space to speak about issues openly, positive change will continue.
In the meantime, Yasmine admits the thought of speaking at the university graduation ceremony is still very surreal. Unable to pinpoint her most memorable moment, she’s absolutely positive she’s going to miss being a part of NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers), the Engineering Village where she was a resident assistant for two years, and her support system consisting of Miss Angie, Miss Kesha, and Miss Kim of MEP, and Dr. Laura “B” Bottomley of WIE (Women In Engineering).