Black Engineering and Science Alumni Club to host anniversary celebration for BESSA, BGESS
The Black Engineering and Science Alumni Club (BESAC) will celebrate BESSA’s 55th and BGESS’s 35th anniversaries on Feb. 11, 2023, with a full day of events designed to connect alumni with students and commemorate this milestone.
The long-awaited celebration will begin with a daytime speaker series symposium at the Bechtel Engineering Center, followed by a cocktail hour and sit-down dinner at the Alumni House, featuring keynote speaker Reginald DesRoches (B.S.’90 ME; M.S.’92, Ph.D.’97 CEE), a BESSA and BGESS alumnus and the president of Rice University.
BESSA and BGESS anniversary celebration
In addition to DesRoches, several distinguished alumni are expected to attend, including Gary May (M.S.’88, Ph.D.’91 EECS), chancellor of UC Davis; Tierra Bills (M.S.’09, Ph.D.’13 CEE), assistant professor at UCLA; Timothy Downing (Ph.D.’13 BioE), associate professor at UC Irvine; Marie-Ange Eyoum Tagne (M.S.’03, Ph.D.’06 EECS), head of product at Yahoo!; Valerie Taylor (Ph.D.’91 EECS), director of the mathematics and computer science division, Argonne National Lab; and Hakim Weatherspoon (Ph.D.’06 CS), professor at Cornell.
“The celebration of the 55th anniversary of BESSA and the 35th anniversary of BGESS indicates the longevity of the organizations and the significance of what they provide — a supportive community of students with common experiences,” said Taylor.
Both BESSA and BGESS have deep roots in the Berkeley Engineering community. The Black Engineering and Science Student Association (BESSA) was founded in 1968 as the Berkeley chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). BESSA works to provide academic and social support not only to the Black engineering and science community, but to the entire Black community. Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS), established in 1987, provides programs to ensure that Black graduate students can successfully contribute to both scientific research and the college’s learning environment.
Miller Allen (B.S.’93, M.S.’95, Ph.D.’02 ME), president of BESAC, which will be celebrating its fifth anniversary, views the reunion as a way for alumni to bond with current BESSA and BGESS students and to express their support for this next generation of engineers.
“The occasion is an opportunity to connect with old friends, meet and network with young alumni and students, and to celebrate the accomplishments of our distinguished alumni,” said Allen. “I hope that alumni feel a sense of continued community and students are inspired to continue the work and carry the torch.”
Allen strongly encourages students to attend this celebration to see for themselves how the hard work they are doing now can someday lead to a successful and fulfilling career.
“Earning a STEM degree at Cal is a demanding endeavor, and sometimes as a student, you wonder if it is worth all of the energy and effort,” said Allen. “Coming to this event — and meeting alumni who started out in your same position, who look like you, have similar background stories as you, and have graduated and gone on to distinguish themselves in academia, the national labs and industry — gives you motivation to persevere and strive to make a lasting impact of your own.”