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Changing the community: Folashade Adenuga continues family legacy while leading organization for Black engineers

National Society of Black Engineers President Folashade Adenuga works to maintain the inclusivity and values of NSBE while also aiming to bring affordable, sustainable energy back to her home in Lagos, Nigeria. ORACLE PHOTO/MYA BEAUVAIS

Pursuing a chemical engineering major was an easy decision for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) President Folashade Adenuga to make as she left Nigeria in the midst of COVID-19 to attend USF.

Adenuga was just 1 year old when her family moved to Lagos, Nigeria. During her years spent there, she cherished the community and the family in which she grew up in.

Heavily influenced by her mother, a first generation college attendee who pursued an engineering degree, Adenuga was inspired from a young age to follow in her footsteps.

“She was my biggest role model when I was younger. As a woman, it’s not a very common degree. Her being so hardworking [and] pushing the boundaries at what you can do really inspired me to not limit myself or restrict myself in anything that I aspire to do,” Adenuga said.

Spending her first year of college completely online due to COVID-19, Adenuga overcame the obstacle by joining the NSBE. She found a new community full of support as she adjusted to life in Tampa.

“My first semester was in Nigeria and then I came here for the second semester and everything was still online. I was really looking for a community and students that could relate to the struggle of being an engineer, and NSBE helped me find that community,” Adenuga said.

NSBE is a student-run organization that focuses on supporting USF’s Black engineering community. Its three values consist of professional development, academic success and building a community for engineers on campus. The club aims to provide resources to help students learn about internships and full time jobs to help with the transition to the workforce after graduating college.

“[NSBE] has had such a huge impact shaping who I am now… Before I joined NSBE I [was] really introverted. I don’t really speak out or stand out in front of the crowd to talk. When I joined NSBE I had that growth…I was able to be more confident and really find my voice,” Adenuga said.

In her position as president of the organization, Adenuga said she feels honored to be able to give back to the Black engineering community. She said she strives to continue building up the welcoming community that she experienced when she first joined.

“Reflecting back on my experiences in NSBE, as a member, when I first joined I had people on the board help me, give me support and help create this community on campus that I felt accepted in as an engineer,” Adenuga said.

“As the president, that is something I am trying to do. It’s really just an honor to have that responsibility to use the organization to create a good community for campus support.”

Adenuga’s work and determination as president has led to the organization getting recognition from the CEO of NSBE, NSBE Vice President Tatyana Pompey said.

“Folashade is very personable, so she’s made a connection with everyone on the e-board. She also tries to establish a connection with our returning members, as well as graduated members of NSBE,” Pompey said. “Folashade really cares about NSBE and maintaining its presence on USF’s campus.”

Adenuga intends to graduate in spring 2024. After her time at USF, she said she plans on entering the engineering industry, specifically the energy industry. She said she aims to focus on sustainable and renewable energy, hoping to make this type of technology more affordable to people in her home country.

“I do want to help my community back home… [I want to] help low income households by giving them resources that they don’t really have access to… [such as] implementing technologies that they may not have access to, like solar panels, to help them harness the energy from their environment and give them reliable energy,” Adenuga said.

“[I want] to help give back to the community that raised me with engineering.”