Being A Student of the World

Keshia Ashe : President of NSBE DC | Founder of ManyMentors


I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. I LOVED Mariah Carey when I was a kid; she was not only beautiful and had a beautiful voice, but she was also mixed like me! But then my dad told me I couldn't sing, so I changed course. I started college with a degree in biomedical engineering and changed to chemical engineer in grad school in response to a ‘recommendation’ from my advisor. I finally settled on regenerative engineering since it encompassed both and now have stopped limiting myself to a ‘major or ‘SME’, but rather am a student of the world.

My biggest barrier into STEM was lack of inspiration and knowledge. When I started in STEM, I only had exposure to one person, the father of my track teammate, as a role model. Thank goodness he came to my home and talked to me about his experiences. When I was starting my first business, it was definitely lack of knowledge. I remember typing into Google "how to start a nonprofit"! I've had multiple turning points, but in summary, it's surrounding myself with likeminded people and having confidence in myself to NOT GIVE UP! What has helped is the amazing community of supporters -- family, friends, colleagues, etc., who believe in me even when I don't believe in myself!

I want to make the world a better place with everything that I do. Right now, I am doing that through my work at the National Science Foundation. I work on a small but mighty team focused on diversifying the CS fields. I also have a nonprofit, ManyMentors, that is using peer mentoring to provide the socio-emotional support for underrepresented and often isolated students pursuing STEM, and ventures in the beauty, sports, and biotech industries that all aim to build community/create stability in these major markets.