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Shaunte Hunter, a junior in mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been selected as a student recipient for the Women of Color in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Community Awards.
This award recognizes Hunter, from Chattanooga, for her great work in and out of the classroom and will be presented to her at the Women of Color STEM Conference in Dallas this month.
The Women of Color conference showcases women in STEM professions from across the nation awarded for achievements. Workshops and networking opportunities are a major feature of the conference, helping to motivate minority women to achieve in male-dominated fields.
Hunter was nominated for this award by Eric Stokes and Travis Griffin, both UT faculty who have noticed her impact on the engineering community, specifically through her involvement with Minority Enhancement for UT (ME4UT), talking with high school juniors and seniors about STEM majors and working to encourage and recruit potential students.
"Shaunte is an ideal student who balances social involvement, service to her school and community and, of course, academics. Persevering through the challenging major of engineering is extremely difficult. To do it as a 'double minority' — being African American and female — makes the achievement even more special," said Stokes.
Griffin said he nominated Hunter for her outstanding involvement in ME4UT, her commitment as an engineering student and the extra effort she puts forth reaching out to students, including bringing a group of high school students to visit UT's engineering program and helping identify promising students.
Both men see her as a very valuable asset to the College of Engineering and UT.
In reference to the coursework of STEM majors, Hunter said, "It's not hard, just a challenge. You have to fight through it." She enjoys using her experiences and knowledge to encourage other students.
Hunter found out she won the award earlier this month. "It has not set in yet. I was shocked. It's a really good feeling; it will probably set in when I get there."
She is excited about attending the upcoming conference. "It is always good to see women achieve big. It's hard to keep pushing in school, but seeing others' successes makes you feel like you can achieve, as well." In attending, she hopes to be able to network with other professionals and find a mentor.
"Motivation is big for me. This award helps me feel secure about the career path I have chosen."
The College of Engineering is sending a group of students to the conference with funding through the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP), another organization encouraging minorities to participate in STEM majors.
For more information about Women of Color, visit: http://www.womenofcolor.net/.