Dedication paves path to bright future for 1994 Black Engineer of the Year

April 16, 1994|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Sun Staff Writer

This is Melissa Young's resume:

The Western High School graduate entered Morgan State University at age 16. She graduated at age 20 with an electrical engineering degree. By age 22, Ms. Young had her master's degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University. Now all of 23, Ms. Young lives in Los Angeles, where she works as an engineer at Hughes Space and Communications Co.

She also won the 1994 Black Engineer of the Year award for "Most Promising Engineer." The award is sponsored by the Council of Engineering Deans of the historically black colleges and universities, US Black Engineer magazine and others.

No wonder Ms. Young is being profiled on a television show called "Success Through Education: A Salute to Black Achievement."

The show, which will be on WJZ-TV tomorrow at 7 p.m., profiles African-American achievers in science and technical fields who won engineering awards. They tell of achieving success through education and dedication -- and how others might do the same.

"Television bombards the public with negative images of blacks and too often ignores hard-working, well-educated blacks who are successful," says Tyrone Taborn, chairman and CEO of CareerCommunications Group, the Baltimore company that produced the special.

"This program promotes and honors educational excellence -- all in an entertaining format," he says.

As hosts of the hour-long show, actors Erika Alexander of "Living Single," Carl Anthony Payne of "Martin," and comedian Bill Bellamy of MTV's "Jams Countdown" talk of the obstacles they have overcome to achieve success in their careers.

The three actors talk to the studio audience -- in this case students from area high schools including Walbrook, Annapolis, City College, Polytechnic and Western.

Ms. Young, who was born in West Baltimore, wants young people to understand "you don't have to be a genius to be successful. You just have to be dedicated."

She always loved school and enjoyed math and science. Ms. Young wasn't sure what she wanted to do until she attended Morgan and discussed an engineering career with her advisers and parents.

"All I knew is that I wanted to do something involving math and science," she says, in a telephone conversation from her office in SouthernCalifornia.

"Neither one of my parents have a college degree but they always encouraged me to get an education," she says. "My father presented it tome that if I wanted a good job, I should go to school."

At both Morgan and Cornell, Ms. Young says, she made friends with people who had the same goals to achieve. "I was always surrounded by motivated people and that helped a lot," she says.

"We were always there for each other and helping one another."

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