Alumni Help Lead MITE2S to New Heights
When Bernard Loyd ‘83 attended a surprise 60th-birthday celebration last fall for his former professor and mentor Wesley L. Harris, he added another element of surprise to the festivities. After an announcement that Harris’s wife, Sandra, and several of his colleagues had established a $100,000 scholarship fund in his name for the MITE2S program (Minority Introduction to Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Science), Loyd upped the ante.
“I felt the alums, the black alums in particular, but the alums more broadly, would be willing to support this recognition and to provide support for MITE2S at a significantly higher level than $100,000, so I volunteered to convene other black alumni around this effort,” Loyd says.
He teamed up with six other black alumni to help raise funds for the scholarship, which now has a revised overall goal of $250,000. Other members of the core BAMIT (Black Alumni of MIT) team include Shirley A. Jackson ‘68, Woodrow Whitlow Jr. ‘74, Eric T. McKissack ‘75, Reginald Van Lee ‘79, Laura M. Robinson ‘80 and Jerome D. Abernathy, PhD ‘87. “This BAMIT leadership team doesn’t feel encumbered by [the revised] goal,” Loyd says with a laugh. “I’d be surprised if we stay there.”
MITE2S is a six-week summer enrichment program for underrepresented-minority high-school juniors. Students attend intensive classes in science and engineering, learn about career options and develop their leadership skills. The program has been in operation since 1974 and hosted a record 80 students last summer. Many graduates ultimately matriculate at MIT or other top-notch schools. The program is offered at no expense to attendees but costs the Institute $6,000 per student. The Harris scholarship would endow two attendees per year.
The fund-raising initiative resonates with the BAMIT group for three reasons, according to Loyd. First, it is a great opportunity to honor Harris, the Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a leader in the advancement of minority education at MIT. Also, it’s a chance to provide lasting support to MITE2S.
Finally, it’s a way for black alumni to become more engaged in the Institute, Loyd says. “We’re at a point where we really need to take a seat at the MIT table.” Noting that he and others want to increase black alumni giving, he adds, “We want to be full partners in the development of MIT both for the sake of students who are there now, as well as for the sake of the Institute, and for our own sake as alums, as stakeholders of the Institute.”
The MITE2S scholarship committee, headed by Sandra Harris, has recruited a number of other alumni volunteers to help with the overall effort as well and expects to reach its goal this year. For more information, visit mit.edu/mites/www/sponsorship/wes_harris.shtml or contact Karl W. Reid ‘84, executive director of special programs for the School of Engineering, at 617-253-9602.