Editor’s Note — This is part of a weekly student conversation series highlighted as part of Black History Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and hope to maintain that momentum in future careers.
Michael Sanders is a computer science major from North Omaha. In life, he commits to “being open, not in a box,” and that mantra drives his experiences, from serving as president of Brother2Brother to growing through STEM CONNECT.
What sparked your interest in computer science?
I have always loved technology—the fact that it always is improving and continuing to gain my interest over and over with new products, software, games, and ideas. I’ve always loved the concept of the future and being a dreamer. Tech just connects with that part of me as it has always been the precedent for what’s to come of the future. College just gave me a major that would allow me to do whatever I want in this amazingly broad field of tech and take it wherever it leads me.
Through STEM CONNECT, you work closely with faculty, peer mentors and other students. What has been your favorite part of that experience? Is there anything you’ll take away from it?
STEM CONNECT is a true blessing and the support they give to me and my cohorts in all facades of the college experience. I enjoy having the resources to be able to connect with people that will be in the same industry as me. As a person who loves to try to make the most out of the wonderful opportunity for networking in college, I fall short very often in doing so. STEM Connect gives the blueprint on how important that community is and how beneficial it can be for everyone involved.
You’re also the president of Brother2Brother. What is the goal of this organization and how has it impacted your college experience?
I am the President of Brother2Brother and we have a Spring Symposium every spring semester covering the topics of what we at B2B like to call M³: Masculinity, Mental Health, Money. This is our flagship event and through events like this and others, our plan is to connect the minority men on campus and cultivate an environment where we can come together and get out of the habit of isolation at an institution that is predominantly white.
Talk a little about your focus of “being open, not being in a box.”
When I describe myself as being open and refusing to be in a box, it’s just my mantra of sorts. I always want to be able to grow as a human and gain the best knowledge, perspective, ideas, habits, etc from any and every person that I encounter. I am open. Open to be wrong and be corrected. Open to criticism. Open to change. When I say open, I use it as an umbrella term, rightfully so. Being open in your mind body and opinions simply makes you a better person.
What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I like to keep things simple ever since I read this article. The article gave a “rule” called the 25/5 rule. Paraphrasing: “everyone wants to do 25 things in their lifetime, most barely do one, the lucky ones MIGHT get 5.” The point is to not try to achieve all 25 at once because then it becomes impossible to focus and be intimate with the production of the best possible product. I digress. To answer the question what do I want to accomplish? I want to leave an imprint everywhere I go and be remembered for doing and creating dope stuff. If that’s all someone can say about me, I’d be content.
What or who inspires you?
People inspire me. All throughout the spectrum. The late Kobe Bryant and Kanye West, all the way to the single mom raising a family to all types of artist personifying thoughts, emotions, stories into all mediums of art. I am inspired by people trying to be the best versions of themselves. Makes me feel like I am not alone despite it being a very personal journey.
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact?
If you want to make an impact. Just start. In any way shape or form that feels morally right to you. There isn’t a one size fits all knowledge cap that I can give. There are many ways to make an impact and create change and not every route is suited for everyone. So just start. People will find you and you should try to find others with the same drive. Gaining relationships with faculty is also an important factor in helping. Wisdom is key forever and always and getting that knowledge from someone who’s seen and made things happen over the years is vital.