“At times, I find myself working twice as hard as the next person to prove that I belong in this field,” says senior Keri-Anne Lue, a mechanical and biomechanics engineering major, “It is not common (as of yet) for a black woman to be an engineer.”
For Lue, whose parents are native to Jamaica, the college selection and preparation process was a venture she had to take lead on for herself. “My family did not fully understand the whole college application process or which universities would fit best for me,” she says.
Today, approximately 62% of black college students in America identify as a first-generation student. This identity has shown to be particularly difficult amongst students of color, usually as a result of their educational experiences and lack of institutional support.
Lue used the Florida Bright Futures scholarship to choose the University of Florida, the state’s highest ranked university.
After taking an interest in engineering through her high school robotics team, she found her way into mechanical engineering which in turn brought her to UF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Using her work, she is helping create a space for future students as an older sister and a Black engineer.
‘I go home and tell my little brother, who is a senior in high school, all of the projects and extracurricular activities I partake in as a mechanical engineer at UF and now he wants to follow in my footsteps,’ she says.
She believes legacies like this are important for her brother, and other future Black engineers, to feel welcomed on campus and set up for success in an underrepresented field.
Lue stresses the importance of representation on campus in order to show that this is a major that black students can pursue.
“That is part of the reason I chose this field; to show others in the black community back at home that you can pursue engineering and excel no matter where you go.”
Keri-Anne Lue is from Lauderhill, FL and has a younger sister who is also attending UF. Lue is currently a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the president of InnoGators, an engineering design organization for culturally-diverse minds. She is set to graduate in December 2022.