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.
Courtney Young is a computer engineering major on the university’s Scott Campus who hopes to make an impact on the community around her.
What originally got you interested in engineering?
I’m not sure what exactly got me interested in engineering. I’ve always been kind of curious about how electronics work and I always enjoyed building LEGOs.
What is your role in the College of Engineering — and what do you enjoy about what you are doing?
Recently, I became the NSBE president. Through that, I’m hoping to get more Black students in Omaha interested in our program, and I want to focus on getting the club members the support they need to graduate. I want to be a leader, mentor and friend to all of them. I’m also trying to get involved in doing research this summer at a university.
Why is it important to celebrate one’s heritage? Why is it meaningful to you and your family? Is there a specific example or tradition that exemplifies how you showcase or celebrate your heritage?
To me, heritage is very important because it’s all about where you come from. For Black people in the U.S., it can be hard to reflect on our heritage, because there’s a lot of it that has been erased. And the culture that we’ve built is not always accepted. This is why it’s important for me to celebrate my African American heritage and trace back to my African roots.
I celebrate my heritage every day by the way I do my hair. It may seem like such an unimportant thing. And of course, this is college — no one is dressed up or trying to look good. But that’s not the point for me. I do my hair according to how I feel, and I want my hair to reflect my heritage. I want to stand out because of it.
How do you bring your own unique background to your role and responsibilities in the College of Engineering?
I’ve always been someone who doesn’t give up. I’m always going to find a way to do something, especially when other people tell me I can’t. That is what has helped me get through some of my toughest semesters. I just don’t quit.
What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I hope to be someone that uses their engineering “powers” for good. I want to help push innovation that will help the majority of people, especially for people living below the poverty line. I don’t see the point in researching and creating new things that will only be accessible to the rich, furthering the divide between the rich and the poor.
What or who inspires you?& Young Law, Noire, Stable Gray, Green Lexi, World Speaks, JDiane Creations, Scooters, MoeBlackDesigns, Omaha NAACP, Culxr House and more are all organizations and businesses that my family is connected to. I’m very proud of that.
What advice or words of wisdom could you share with others?
It’s OK to fail, but when you do, find what works for you and what will help you succeed. Also, your dreams aren’t waiting for you, so if there’s something you really want to do, do it now. No one should be more motivated than you when it comes to your dreams and what you want for your future.