SBCC students Kenny Igbechi, left, Thomas Tabayi, Alexis Willis, Tiffany Love, Jordann Cornett and Rene Holmes. (Courtesy photo)

Spring break road trips are a time-honored tradition for college students. For six Santa Barbara City College students, however, their destination was not the usual sun-drenched, beach-party scene.

With funding from the Office of Equity and the SBCC Foundation, Kenny Igbechi, Thomas Tabayi, Alexis Willis, Tiffany Love, Jordann Cornett and Rene Holmes spent spring break at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 45th Annual Convention in Detroit.

NSBE’s mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

To that end, the annual convention showcases black students and professionals who have a passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), who are high achievers in these fields and are channeling their dedication to advance their communities and society at large.

The SBCC students joined more than 12,000 aspiring and practicing engineers and educators, representing more than 200 academic institutions, government agencies, corporations and nonprofit organizations.

Activities included panel discussions, high-profile speakers, workshops, networking sessions, community engagement events, technical and scientific competitions, hands-on engineering and science activities, and a career fair geared toward African-Americans in STEM.

Computer engineering major Alexis Willis, who described the gathering as “an incredible community of mentors,” attended the career fair on her first day and was encouraged to have an interview.

An hour later, she was offered an eight-month paid internship with global automotive components manufacturer Denso.

Psychobiology major Jordann Cornett, who also attended the conference, called it, “amazing, motivating and inspiring.”

In addition to the career fair, workshops and sessions they attended, the students enjoyed the networking opportunities, feeling they were building friendships as well as professional relationships. They were urged to follow their dreams and trust in their abilities to achieve them.

Cornett summed up the experience: “Now I look at everything differently — myself, my future, everything around me. The sky’s the limit.”

— Luz Reyes-Martin for SBCC.