March 23, 2017
Ariel Ash-Shakoor G’17, a graduate student in Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science has earned the University’s Orange Circle Award. The award recognizes members of the SU community who go above and beyond in their daily lives, and who possess a deep responsibility for extraordinary philanthropic acts that better our society. Ash-Shakoor was honored for her work as a founding mentor in the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Women of Color program, and as the founder of the STEM Tutoring Program at the Syracuse Northeast Community Center (SNCC).
Ash-Shakoor is a fifth-year graduate student studying biomedical engineering. She spends a significant amount of her time mentoring other students–her peers, undergraduates, and primary school students. As an African-American woman in an engineering doctoral program, Ariel is profoundly aware of her status as a role model—particularly for young students from underrepresented groups. Her philanthropic acts aim to broaden participation in STEM, particularly among traditionally underrepresented groups.
When an undergraduate student proposed the idea of starting a Women of Color in STEM group in 2014, Ash-Shakoor joined the initial group of students, faculty, and staff that came together to shape the direction of the group. She continues to recruit other graduate students of color as mentors for the organization.
The SNCC STEM Program grew out of Ash-Shakoor’s volunteer outreach in area high schools and an invitation from the director of SNCC to offer STEM-based activities to students after school. In collaboration with the Shaw Center at SU, this program now encompasses numerous undergraduate and graduate volunteers.
Ash-Shakoor’s advisor Associate Professor Jay Henderson said, “In addition to the research Ariel has accomplished in the lab, she has a demonstrated record of engagement in outreach activities uncommon in a gradate student. The level of independence with which Ariel had conducted these activities, many sponsored by her through her NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, is the best I have ever seen in any graduate student. These, and related experiences, have positioned Ariel to be uniquely qualified and trained to impact STEM education broadly in her future career.”