12 Dec Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2016 Scholar Janaye Matthews
What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating?
My plan is to continue to graduate school and pursue a master’s degree in global health innovation. My ultimate vision is to take technological health solutions that we see every day in Western societies and apply them to under-served communities around the world and to do so in a way that is still acknowledging and respecting cultural norms.
Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them.
I am member of the National Society of Black Engineers, and I am in my third term on the Region VI executive board, this year as the Region VI chairperson. I am also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I joined each of these in search of communities of individuals whose common passion is to illuminate and normalize the Black experience in various settings. They’ve pushed me to transform and expand my understanding of public service, to critically consider how my leadership manifests in different spaces, and to own the role I have in shaping the future.
Tell us about an important mentor you have had.
I never knew how to approach someone about becoming my mentor, but I realize now that it just starts with asking to have a conversation. One of my mentors has played a key role in giving me a safe space to talk about my identity as a Black woman engineer. It’s nice to have someone who understands the academic rigor and the way that identity ties into that experience. She’s provided the most sound (and logical) insight, usually when I’m overthinking something. It’s a connection I’m glad I have and hope to provide for someone else in the future.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Impostor syndrome has manifested in so many ways since I started college. I’ve found myself doubting my own abilities, denying myself of my own growth. During one of the hardest times I had with accepting that I was meant to be doing the work I was doing, one of my mentors told me this: “You are going to grow in ways that the people around you are not. Don’t stop. Ever.”
I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to let others see the strength in me, and I simply have to trust that it’s enough.
If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why?
Dr. Mae Jemison, Michelle Obama, Kendrick Lamar, Malcolm X, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, James Baldwin, The Squad.
There’s a specific reason for each person, but in a broad statement: each of these people has had a major impact on me and the development of my identity, be it academically, culturally or professionally. They have profound stories of persistence and carry a rich piece of history in their experience. In some cases, their show of strength has been an inspiration; in others, their words provided me with much needed hope.