By Imani Wj Wright
Special to the AFRO

From Feb. 11-13, the BEYA STEM Conference was hosted virtually, via YouTube. This event was originally set to take place at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park, but was moved online for public health precautions. 

The BEYA STEM community has over 10,000 members.  Young people Grades K-12, college students, and corporate, government and military professionals, are offered three days of learning, networking, celebrating excellence and showcasing STEM career opportunities. 

“For more than three decades, the BEYA Conference has offered valuable networking opportunities for people in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The prestigious award ceremonies that take place at BEYA have earned widespread praise,” the organization said in a statement.

“During the three-day event, conference attendees meet and learn from executives representing Fortune 500 companies that are committed to diversity. College students in attendance can meet award winners and learn the next critical steps in forging their own successful careers in STEM.” a BEYA statement explained. 

There were a bevy of events through the three-day conference. The first official event was focused on education, called “HBCU Village Thursday,” while the very last event was BEYA’s 35-year “Birthday Bash,” in the “STEMulating Lounge.”   Hosted at the top of each day’s scheduling was a tribute to Blacks in the military. Throughout the three days were workshops geared towards resume writing, along with seminars on topics such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and career paths. 

There were also two award ceremonies: The Stars & Stripes Awards, emceed by radio host Angela Stribling; and the BEYA Awards Ceremony with veteran BEYA emcee Dr. Kendall Harris and Stribling both of whom served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. Both events lasted over two hours and keenly noted the prestige and esteem associated with each acknowledgement. 

The Stars & Stripes Awards honored the contributions of active and retired African-American admirals and generals spanning the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Coast Guard, National Guard, U.S. Space Force and members of the Senior Executive Service. 

“The privileges of being an American belong to those brave enough to fight for you,” stated a BEYA representative, at the start of the event. 

During the BEYA Awards Ceremony, they focused on honoring advancement, support, achievement and inspiration. Some award winners included: Calvin G. Butler Jr. (Chairman’s Award), Veronica Wesley (Professional Achievement in Industry Award) and Gerald Johnson (Black Engineer of the Year Award). 

“This conference affords us the opportunity to celebrate the men and women who are dedicated to advancing scientific discovery, committed to making a difference in their communities and passionate about inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders,” said Rhom Erskine, VP of Global Diversity and Inclusion Rhom Erskine at Lockheed Martin.

Veteran award show host Harris told the audience: “Throughout BEYA’s 35 year history, there has not been a more pivotal time then right now, for our country or our world and we continue to meet the challenge on multiple fronts. We know we can work to change the course and redirect our nation’s future as we have always done. BEYA is our trusted community.”

To view the awards ceremony, view the BEYA Awards Ceremony below: