Since graduating in 2013 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Brooke Wages’ career has only continued to blossom; after three internships with Marathon Petroleum as a student, she was chosen to participate in British Petroleum’s (BP) competency-based rotational program for promising young professionals post-graduation, gaining valuable engineering experience in a variety of positions. She is completing her last rotation in Houston, Texas, as an area maintenance engineer responsible for BP’s on and offshore. In her eyes, all of this personal and professional success can be traced back to two sources: the College’s Minority Engineering Programs (MEP) and her relationship with God.
“The experience and opportunities that were afforded to me by the MEP are priceless,” she said.
While the advantages and skills she gained through MEP may have been priceless, that did not stop Wages from trying to repay the debt; she generously donated $15,000 back to the organization, and wishes she could have given more.
“I can never give enough to repay what the program has done for me, when it comes to my personal growth, academic and professional growth.”
The MEP hosts a wide range of services and events for minority engineering students, including tutoring, mentorship, and auto-enrollment in a class designed to introduce them to the College and University. The organization also offers excellent opportunities for incoming freshmen, such as a Summer Transition Program (STP) and an Overnight-Stay. MEP began offering summer research programs for rising freshmen last year, with noticeable results; the students who participated in the pre-college research program had higher GPAs on average than those who did not. Due to budgetary restrictions, however, only a limited number of students were given this opportunity, which is why Wages hopes her donation can help fund the program.
Of all the staff members and role models she encountered, her highest words of praise go to Angelitha Daniel, the director of MEP. “When I was at my highest and lowest Ms. Angie was there,” Wages said. “(She) found me tutors freshman and sophomore year, and the MEP office always made themselves available. They are awesome.”
Wages participated in all of the aforementioned MEP events and services, eventually becoming both a mentor and tutor herself. She has always been service-minded, from her student years through her professional life, and this passion for giving back is not limited to the MEP. While at NC State she founded the Christian Mentoring Association, and the organization is still running. She has worked with the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated (NAEFI) to reintegrate individuals who have served extended sentences back into society; and currently volunteers with WorkFaith Connection, a Christian-based organization that trains and encourage disadvantaged job seekers and helps them build a new life through work and faith.
Wages’ dream, however, is to combine both her love of engineering and her commitment to service. According to the American Welding Society, “by 2020 there will be a shortage of 290,000 professionals, including inspectors, engineers, and teachers” of welding in the manufacturing industry, which includes gas and oil production. She hopes to be able to start an organization that will work with the formerly incarcerated to train and place them in these positions, helping them develop a valued skill that will lead to job retention and a better lifestyle overall.
Not only does she have personal dreams, but Wages has dreams for the MEP, too.
She hopes that in 20 years the program will be able to provide two endowed $15,000 scholarships. She encourages other alumni to remember how beneficial the program was for them and consider donating back, and she fully believes that Daniel and the MEP will put her donation to the best use possible.
After all, Wages stressed, “MEP is family.”