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Leading by Example


Tamarind Forbes

Grand Valley is known for producing great leaders. Tamarind Forbes, Class of 2018, is a great example. As the Chapter President of the National Society of Black Engineers and an active community volunteer, she is leading the way for minorities academically and professionally.

“The engineering program here at Grand Valley has equipped me with the necessary knowledge and skills to stand out as an engineer, and as a black woman, building my confidence to become a leader for not only myself but for my fellow peers,” she said.

Tamarind says without the guidance of those around her, especially Paul Plotkowski, Dean of Engineering and Computing, she would have never had the courage to reestablish the National Society of Black Engineers chapter last year.

“I’ve experienced a lot of stereotypical barriers in the workplace of an engineer. Many perceive an engineer to be a Caucasian male, not a woman, or an African American woman for that matter. I believe that the National Society of Black Engineers can broaden the spectrum of what an engineer can be.”

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is a student non-profit professional organization. It aims at the retention of minority Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics students by supporting them with leadership skills, professional development, and more to help train them in their professional and academic lives.

“Diversity can be rare at some universities,” she explains. “Grand Valley never shadows minorities from the greater good. They continue to invest in us, no matter who we are, to succeed. That’s when I developed the confidence to reestablish a chapter that once participated here.”

Tamarind hopes that this effect of the NSBE chapter will resonate with many students and faculty for years to come.        

“I want my Laker Effect to set the tone for upcoming leaders who will lead important organizations. Grand Valley’s tagline, ‘Laker for a Lifetime’, teaches students about giving back to what helped you. I feel as though if I continue to give back, hopefully my Laker Effect will still remain at the university.”

Tamarind believes that investment in education is the greatest gift that anyone can give.

“You can never run out of knowledge, you can never learn too much, and you can never reach a limit as a Grand Valley student. I plan to invest just like the donors who have invested in me because we need it to invest back into the world.”