As an undergraduate Civil Engineering major, Mark Orebiyi ’17 was involved in everything from public relations for the African Caribbean Villanova group to serving as historian for the College’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He also conducted research with faculty, participated in STEM outreach and engaged with Villanova Engineering Service Learning.
After four summers working with children at a church day camp during high school, Orebiyi brought his enthusiasm to the College of Engineering, where he volunteered with VESTED—Villanova Engineering, Science and Technology Enrichment and Development. VESTED introduces technical fields to students in under-resourced communities and encourages them to consider STEM careers. His experience with VESTED led to two summers with the College’s weeklong NovaEDGE Diversity in Engineering camp, where he proved to be a popular resident assistant and advisor for the high-school-aged participants. Orebiyi’s interest in working with youth even prompted him to take a teaching course at Villanova.
As a graduating senior, Orebiyi’s commitment to STEM outreach earned him a position on the executive board of Region 2 of the National Society of Black Engineers. As precollege initiative chair, he develops innovative workshops and activities that college chapters from South Carolina to Pennsylvania can implement to stimulate the interest of black youth in the fields of engineering, science and technology.
International development is another area in which Orebiyi sees an opportunity to make a difference. Inspired by Assistant Professor Virginia Smith, PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Orebiyi has decided to pursue his master’s degree at Villanova in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering and focus his thesis on STEM outreach and international development in the field of water resources. Dr. Smith, with whom he conducted undergraduate research, will be his graduate program advisor. Orebiyi says, “I tried a lot of different things to find out what it is I want to do; these topics really sparked my interest.” This past summer Orebiyi took that spark to Cambodia where he developed and presented an experiment for the country’s new STEM workbook compiled by Villanova engineering students and approved by the Ministry of Education.
When asked what advice he’d share with other would-be change makers, Orebiyi says, “Persevere with your ideas. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” He also recommends “wandering” to find your passion, noting, “You’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do.”