India Simone Banks

My DDEP experience has been a valuable one. I think the program is unique in that it gives you the opportunity to have two very different undergraduate experiences. At Spelman, I was nurtured in an intimate environment with my peers who happened to be predominately black females, like myself.  This environment challenged me to find something unique about myself because I was no longer a minority. Being in an environment like Spelman fostered some friendly competition between peers, which was beneficial in some ways because I was constantly motivated to give the best I had to offer. I think Spelman gave me the foundation and tools that I can use to be successful here at Michigan.

I chose Michigan because the school holds students to a high standard. Michigan has a lot of resources and opportunities available to its students. Also, as a black woman in engineering the possibilities are endless. Spelman taught me how to be a free-thinking, socially conscious young lady, which prepared me to be a better engineer at Michigan. Michigan will give me the skills necessary to look at the world more critically and hopefully improve upon some of its deficiencies. I was also drawn to Michigan because of the network of AUC students who have gone through the engineering program. I know my engineering courses are going to be rigorous and I may need to increase my level of effort to excel in my classes.  I am definitely relying on my fellow Michigan/DDEP peers. This is a journey that I think will be more rewarding if I don’t go it alone. I currently have AUC family in most my classes, which is great! We have formed study groups to support each other.

 In addition to doing well in my classes, I want to make the most of my undergraduate experience here at Michigan. At Spelman, I was a part of a community service organization called Sisters Keeping It Real Through Service (SKIRTS) for three years. I enjoyed the various projects that we did. If time permits, I would love to join a club or two at Michigan. The most challenging part of being a DDEP student is grappling with the fact that you are going to be leaving your friends behind and you won't be able to participate in the activities of senior year. I miss my friends that I made at Spelman but I am confident that our bonds will remain for years to come. I am also optimistic that I will make some new friends here at Michigan! I have interned at IBM, GE Transportation and the NSBE SEEK Program, and I am grateful for each experience. This past summer I was also able to go to Germany for two weeks, which was great. It made me want to see more of the world!

In closing, I would just advise future DDEP students to stay confident and focused. If you are willing to put in the work, you will succeed.