As Veldesta Evans says, “Education is the equalizer for any African American. If you get educated, no one can take that away from you.”

Evans spoke at the Terror Zone Summit  (TZS) hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) on Sep. 29. The event aimed to empower young African Americans and help them pursue careers in engineering and other fields in the technology world. Evans, along with several other speakers, provided professional tips and guidance to a crowd of dozens of Mason’s young African Americans.

“I want to help young people understand what it is they’re up against when they get out into the world. And I just wish that when I was younger, I had somebody to help me along the way to help me get to the next step. Every time I am asked to help someone get there, I do it,” Evans said.

Mason’s NSBE chapter, specifically its executive board, in conjunction with the Region II Regional Executive Board of NSBE, especially the Terror Zone Coordinator of NSBE, Will Dalton, organized the event. Mason’s NSBE executive board is comprised of President Christian Adounvo, Vice President Johnetta Saygbe, and Faculty advisor Dr. Gerald Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon is the Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.

“We received very positive feedback,” Saygbe said. An alumni from the NSBE Patuxent River Alumni Extension told Saygbe that the event was one of the best Terror Zone Summits they had been to.

There were a variety of workshops, including 21st Century STEM Professional, which aimed to teach strategies for developing a professional name brand, as well as business etiquette. Another workshop, I Only Have 24 Hours: Efficient Time Management, helped teach time-management strategies.

Forging a Financial Strategy taught attendees how to “better your financial health by prioritizing your spending, building good credit, and investing planning,” according to the TZS’s agenda.

“The diversity of the workshops and speakers, immeasurable hospitality of the George Mason University NSBE chapter, and opportunities for networking between Terror Zone Chapters were effortlessly incomparable with past Summits. This was the first time in history the TZS has been hosted by Mason” Saygbe said.

The workshop entitled Passing the Torch: Keeping the Flame Ablaze, gave students the opportunity to create a dialogue with past and present Mason NSBE presidential leadership “in an effort to stir collaborative brainstorming about successful techniques,” according to event’s agenda.

Another speaker and Mason alum, Marcus Wyche, focused on resumes, cover letters and interviews. He also explained proper attire for men in the professional world.

“I want to work with more young engineers, so me coming back and helping them, especially since I went to school here, is something that’s fun to do.,” Wyche said.

Tanaya Bondon, the President of the NSBE Patuxent River Alumni Extension Chapter,  highlighted the impact the organization has made on changing the attitudes of young people towards engineering.

“NSBE has taught me how important it is to reach back, and to help the younger kids. I find it important for me to try and teach these younger kids that engineering is fun, math is fun, science is fun. It’s good to like these things. It’s not uncool to be smart in class,” Bondon said.