Finding her fit at Mizzou
From undecided to civil engineering student leader
Story by Megan Liz Smith and Ryan Owens
Walta Abraham has come a long way from her freshman year. When she started at Mizzou, she was unsure of what her major would be and where her career was headed. Her future was full of possibilities and Mizzou offered many opportunities to find her way: 14 schools, more than 300 degrees and 600 student groups. It’s been said that Mizzou has a place for everyone—Abraham was determined to find hers.
“It was exactly what I needed in order to take the next step in my growth toward adulthood,” said Abraham, who is now a senior studying civil engineering. “What made this diversity even better was that everyone had the common goal of furthering their education and bettering themselves.”
She has grown a lot as a student and a leader since then. Abraham now serves as the president of the school’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. This past summer she took on an even higher leadership role, as the regional chair of the society’s leadership conference. It’s been a long road since freshman year and if not for the advice of her adviser, it could have turned out a lot differently.
“I always loved math; when my adviser suggested I take Engineering 1000, I did,” Abraham said. “To my luck, I was exposed to civil engineering, did a lot of research and realized that I wanted to engineer commercial buildings.”
It was her love for engineering that led Abraham to the National Society for Black Engineers, one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. Founded in 1975, the society has more than 500 chapters worldwide. Its mission was one she could stand behind. Abraham, an African-American and a woman, is among some of the most underrepresented groups in the field of engineering. The society aims to change that, and Abraham hopes to help.
“I didn’t realize how amazing the group was when my friend dragged me along to my first meeting. But after that first meeting, I knew that if I continued to surround myself with people who faced the issues I faced, who also yearned for a sense of community, and were motivated to empower those around them, getting through the engineering program would be more enjoyable,” she said.
Abraham hasn’t looked back since. She first served as the programs chair, then vice president. She was elected president of the group this year. Outside of her engineering involvement, Abraham is a McNair Scholar and a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
For more of her story, please see Abraham’s journey leads her to NSBE leadership