Apple and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Build Tech Pipeline for HBCU Scholars

The computer giant has created a new internship program that would give them access to African American students across the nation.

Apple Computer and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund have partnered to build a pipeline for African American students into the world’s largest information technology company with a new internship effort called the Apple HBCU Scholars program.

This year, thirty-one students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities will each be awarded a scholarship of up to $25,000 during their senior year of study. They will also participate in a ten-day see-it-all visit to the company prior to the three-month internship. Additionally, each student will also be paired with an employee from Apple during their time in Cupertino, Calif.

There has been recent criticism spearheaded by Rev. Jesse Jackson, regarding the lack of diversity at large tech companies. Apple’s program is the first of its kind to focus specifically on African Americans and use the obvious source of HBCUs, which graduate thousands of students in STEM fields, as a connector.

“Many companies talk about wanting a more diverse workforce. Apple is actually demonstrating its commitment — and in a big way,” said Thurgood Marshall College Fund President Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. to The Root on Friday in Washington.

“To select 31 students from non-traditional recruitment sources like HBCUs, is simply unheard of and worthy of special attention. Apple is ‘putting its money where its mouth is’ when it comes to workforce diversity,” Taylor added.

The inaugural program will allow African American students from HBCUS to experience different departments at the popular company in detail. Students must have at least a 3.3 GPA to participate in the program. Graduate students and students outside the engineering fields, such as business, may also apply.

Lauren Patterson, 20, who is a junior computer science major at Hampton University, said she heard about the program through the department chairman at Hampton and was accepted for an internship.

“When I found out I was accepted everyone was super excited, and of course flying all the way across the country to work at this fabulous company is a dream come true for me,” Patterson told The Root on Friday.

One of the requirements of participating in the program is that students must spread the word of the initiative at their respective campuses after their internship is completed. That stipulation combined with the outreach to HBCUs by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund is likely to build a permanent pipeline of black STEM scholars within the company.

Apple Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources, Denise Young Smith, a graduate of Grambling State, began working at Apple in 1997. She welcomed the HBCU students in Washington on Friday.

“You’ve proven yourself exceptionally capable,” Smith said as she addressed the students on Friday.

“They’ll get a chance to experience the campus and to understand the products the way we understand them and get a little bit more of an expansive perspective,” Smith told The Root regarding what the students can look forward to.

“We’ve always thought we could identify and deploy talent into the world’s greatest organizations and now we have the opportunity to do that and really do something historic. There’s nothing like this Apple scholarship program,” said M. Scott Lily, who designed the application process and is the Vice President of Programs at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Apple HBCU Scholars include:

Angelica Willis, North Carolina A & T

Bethlehem Zergaw, Alabama A & M

Bushra-Sultan Yagboyaju, Fisk

Chukwuemelie Onwubuya, Allen University

Dakari Franklin, Morehouse

Darnel Williams, Grambling State University

David Nesbeth, Howard University

Deshaun Crawford, Delaware State University

Ebenezer Nkrumah, Fisk University

Grant Pope, Morehouse

Khaliq Satchell, Elizabeth City State University

Lauren Patterson, Hampton University

Malik Jones, Hampton

Maurita Ament, Spelman

Mya Havard, Spelman

Nathaniel Spindler, Fayetteville State University

Naya Coard, Spelman

Nhan Mai, Alabama A&M

Nia Farmer, Howard University

Paris Griffin, Chicago State

Richard Igbiriki, Lincoln U (PA)

Ropafadzo Ropa Denga, Spelman

Sakshyam Dahal, Claflin

Taha Merghani, Jackson State University

Tatyana Matthews, Elizabeth City State University

Timothy Baba, Huston-Tillotson/Prairie View A & M

Todd Boone II, Prairie View A & M

Xavier Crutcher, Alabama A&M

Zanetta Tyler North, Carolina A & T

Gaston Seneza, Philander Smith

Paul Hammond, North Carolina A & T

Source: The Root