Since 1943, Howard University has awarded those among our ranks who embody the values of excellence in truth and service. See what this year's honorees have to say about their journeys at Howard and beyond in these exclusive interviews.Watch the Honoree Interviews
After graduating magna cum laude from Howard University in May 2022, Civil and Environmental Engineering alumna and Karsh STEM Scholar Cameryn Burnette began a career aimed at engineering low-tech solutions to positively impact developing areas. She is currently a Special Project Manager at Energicity Corp in Benin, West Africa; Energicity “is not just building solar grids, but cultivating electricity ‘ecosystems’ by implementing programs that influence trade, education, and communication in rural areas.”
In January, Burnette received a Schwarzman Scholars fellowship. The second-ever Howard alum to receive this honor, Burnette is part of the eighth cohort for one of the most prestigious graduate fellowships in the world. Through this fellowship, Burnette aims to earn her PhD in Material Science to create materials for safe, sustainable, modern infrastructure with an early focus on bio-inspired materials and biocomposites after matriculating from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. She plans to create polymers that have the functionality of petroleum plastics and enhanced degradation abilities so they can decompose, rather than accumulating on the Earth’s surface or break down into microplastics. She is also interested in exploring the potential of enhancing natural materials for use as building materials.
In addition to the Schwarzman Scholars fellowship, Burnette also received a presentation award for her research “Nanoindentation of bovine meniscus for localized properties.” She expects to eventually lead her own lab and work as a professor to inspire students, similar to how her Howard professors motivated her.
Kenzell Munroe is a senior Fashion Design major and creator of a sustainable fashion brand, Things of That Nature. Through his brand, Munroe creates hand-made products from upcycled material. He recently partnered with the streetwear brand Atmos in a workshop showcasing sustainable fashion. During the workshop, he created 12 upcycled tote bags that have become his signature item. Born in Syndey, Australia and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Munroe developed a love for Earth and a desire to preserve it for future generations. After learning to sew during his sophomore year, Munroe’s need to source materials for his coursework at Howard inspired him to rework denim and cargo fabrics from his own wardrobe, as well as fabrics bought from thrift stores or donated by friends and family. His signature tote bags are now a popular accessory on the Yard.
Munroe hopes to influence and inspire everyone he connects with, bringing joy and new perspectives through fashion design. He believes that fashion design can create a connection without words, conveying a message and ethos through artistic products. He credits Professor Mikki Taylor as his mentor during matriculation, teaching him the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry and pinpointing pollution problems and potential solutions.
While pursuing a degree in electrical engineering at Howard, Gregory Robinson felt that in addition to excellent academic training, he received a broader understanding of navigating a diverse environment because of the population. He said that it was this environment that aided him to become innovative without fear of failure and grow his confidence so that he could thrive in competitive settings.
Before his assignment to NASA Headquarters in 1999, Robinson worked in different leadership positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He also served as the Systems Assurance Manager for projects like Global Geospace (1994), Earth Observing System (2002), and Aura Spacecraft (2004).
In 2005, Robinson moved to the role of Deputy Chief Engineer at NASA Headquarters where he developed and implemented NASA’s Engineering Excellence and Engineering Technical Authority, and improved project management and systems across the agency.
In 2013, Robinson was named the deputy director at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center. In that role, which he calls a highlight of his career, he played a role in furthering aeronautics and space technology. He also served as NASA deputy chief engineer, a role in which he got to work on approximately 22 shuttle launch missions that took place in the years after the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003.
Since taking the role of Deputy Director at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Glenn Research Center in 2013, he has been managing a plethora of programs and projects.
Robinson has received numerous individual and group performance awards, including the Presidential Rank, Meritorious Senior Professionals and Executives Award. In February of 2022, Robinson was awarded the Roy L. Clay Sr Technology Pinnacle Award.
Portrait image courtesy of NASA.
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