CSE staff member receives alumni honor

Simone Gbolo is responsible for increasing the engagement of historically underrepresented minority undergraduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She focuses on retention through high impact practices such as providing opportunities for professional development, undergraduate research, preparation for graduate school, socialization in STEM, peer mentoring, and academic support.

What gets you excited about work?
The students I work with every day are the source of my inspiration. Our students desire to get a great education, become better individuals, and contribute to our society. They have a deep commitment to service and creating opportunities for other young people from underrepresented backgrounds interested in science, technology and math.

Who has inspired you the most during your career?
My parents! My mother always pushed me to do better, and my father instilled a deep appreciation for education, constantly reminding me that he did not have access to education growing up.

What skills are important to succeed as a young professional today?
Flexibility, eagerness to learn, embracing diversity, networking, and the ability to listen.

What is a good book you would recommend to others?
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi.

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?
When Paul Strykowski, associate dean of the College of Science and Engineering, coined my work with students as the "Simone Effect" at the 2012 North Star STEM Alliance kick-off event. I was totally embarrassed. I missed the comment and students came up to me afterwards referring to his remarks in a humorous way.

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?
I recently visited Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn, NY. This quote struck me during the visit: "Tell my brothers to be always watching unto prayer, and when the good old ship of Zion comes along, to be ready to step aboard." This reminded me to always stay mindful, recognize that change is constant, and be prepared because opportunity is all around.

Reprinted with permission from the College of Education and Human Development's Rising Alumni profiles.