“What makes me proud to be a black engineer and represent the black community in this field is just being able to be a role model,” says Ciku Makumi, a current Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering student.
Makumi recently completed a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in electrical and computer engineering at UF MAE.
Born to Kenyan parents, Makumi stresses the importance of education to her family. “My parents are from Kenya and moved here for college and both received multiple degrees. Education has always been very important to them and especially to my grandfather,” she says, recalling her journey from NC State and UNC Chapel Hill to the University of Florida.
Makumi has been surrounded by role models in higher education and engineering through her family and friends.
Volunteering with the organization Myles for Great Hopes, she has worked with teams of children, ages 5-9 years old for FIRST LEGO League Robotics, collaborating with other children in Nairobi, Kenya. She helps to mentor black children with hopes of sparking in them the same love for robotics and engineering that led her down this path.
A recent study found that Black students who experience a positive role model may be more resilient and perform better in school.
These significant roles are also found to mold the values, attitudes and behavior of Black youth. This in turn should help them achieve their full potential, showing that the legacies the Black students and professionals are creating today, will have lasting impacts.
Makumi is set to complete her Ph.D. program in May 2024, with the support of her parents and younger brother.