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Students Hoping to Open Tech Doors to All Have Founded Blacks & African Americans in Computing

9/7/2018 10:15:17 AM David Mercer, Illinois Computer Science

A new group, Blacks & African Americans in Computing (BAAC), has joined the roster of student-run organizations with ties to Illinois Computer Science.

BAAC plans to celebrate diversity that already exists in computer science and other technological fields, but also expose minority students not already engaged in tech to the possibilities open to them, said Joseph Sieger, who is president and co-founder of the new group.

Blacks and African Americans in Computing is the latest student organization at Illinois Computer Science. Group officers include Outreach Chair David Alston, Project Chair Charles Ekwueme, President Joseph Sieger, Treasurer Oumar Soumare, Vice President John Drake, Workshops Chair Akash Mukherjee, Public Relations Chair Chelsea Langston, and Tech Chair Adrian Clark. Not pictured are Project Chair Xavier Gourdine and Secretary Darci Peoples.
Blacks and African Americans in Computing is the latest student organization at Illinois Computer Science. Group officers include Outreach Chair David Alston, Project Chair Charles Ekwueme, President Joseph Sieger, Treasurer Oumar Soumare, Vice President John Drake, Workshops Chair Akash Mukherjee, Public Relations Chair Chelsea Langston, and Tech Chair Adrian Clark. Not pictured are Project Chair Xavier Gourdine and Secretary Darci Peoples.

“Many individuals self-select out of this field because they don’t feel like they belong or they are inadequate when that is so far from the truth,” said Sieger, a junior majoring in Computer Science. “We want to support each other and help guide one another to success through the support structure we have created.”

BAAC has about 50 members so far and is open to students from any background and any major, he said.

“We want to create a community around our current members as well as promote exposure to technology among minorities,” Sieger said.

BAAC plans to work with students on campus, but also with students, both locally and in Chicago, who are not yet in college whose exposure to technology is limited.

Beyond its outreach efforts, BAAC also will host networking events with companies – tech, healthcare, financial, and others – to link members with potential employers. The group also plans a job-interview workshop series, and will host social events. Some events are already listed on the BAAC calendar.

In addition to Sieger, BAAC’s officers are: Vice President John Drake, Secretary Darci Peoples, Treasurer Oumar Soumare, Public Relations Chair Chelsea Langston, Outreach Chair David Alston, Project Chairs Xavier Gourdine and Charles Ekwueme, Tech Chair Adrian Clark, and Workshops Chair Akash Mukherjee.

Information about the new organization is also available through its website and Facebook page.

BAAC is the eighth Illinois Computer Science student group and one of more than 1,000 such groups across campus.