As part of NAHB’s recently launched Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Student and Faculty Leadership program, NAHB hosted a three-day networking and educational event for 22 students from 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Students from around the country traveled to Washington, D.C. Sept. 27-29 to hear lectures and engage with leaders from across the construction industry.
“The program included topics around leadership, professional development, Black history related to construction and development, and more,” said Myles Cardenas, NAHB Student Chapters Advisory Board vice chair. “The experience over the last three days with students was invaluable, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.”
After a night of bowling, the students went to the National Building Museum where they listened in on key lessons from industry leaders including Bobby Thompson, director of operations at Beazer Homes, and Dr. Charner I. Rodgers, Student Chapters Advisory Board chair.
Thompson helped students understand how to get to “their 10 [out of 10],” noting the different paths everyone takes to find their own forms of success.
Rodgers and Cardenas, a one-time faculty and student duo who won the IBS student competition in 2017 with Kennesaw State University, taught the intricacies, strategies and dedication needed to win the event.
“The [student competition] coming up in February, I’m going to go to scope it out and take notes,” said Brittany Holt, a junior at Morgan State University. “And the following year, in 2025, Morgan State University is winning the whole thing.”
The evening concluded with a crucial lesson from Stefanie Smith, partner and vice president at Elm Street Development, about knowing your worth (both mentally and monetarily), navigating company culture and reckoning with workplace microaggressions.
“Today’s events were eye-opening, and we need to have it more often to educate all HBCU students that the world is ours and we have the people who want to support us,” said Holt. “I learned that residential is where I want to be when it comes to construction and where I want to go once I graduate. With the help of NAHB, I’m going to get there.”