In the spirit of Black history month we, Nubian Message, feel that while discussing all things Black, that it is important to highlight and celebrate our Black faculty and staff here at NC State. On Feb. 14, 2022, Nubian Message sat down with Dr. Jamila Simpson, who is the Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence for the College Of Sciences.
Dr. Simpson was the first Black person to graduate from NC State with an undergraduate degree in meteorology. She also received her Ph.D. in science education from NC State. Currently, Dr. Simpson has worked for the College of Sciences Dean’s Office for thirteen years, and she has just been honored by Governor Cooper as a Black leader in STEM.
While working for the dean’s office Dr. Simpson has helped create and sponsor many programs and organizations focussing on diversity and equity. Some of these programs include the Sciences Senior Diversity Banquet, the Sciences Student Ambassador Program, The Society of Multicultural Scientists (SMS), and the Sciences Diversity Workshop.
NM: What do you feel your impact is as a Black faculty/staff member at NCSU?
Dr. Simpson: I think that everyone needs to see a reflection of themselves and others in all spaces, and that includes higher education. I hope that my presence at NC State shows students of color that they can do great things. I also feel that part of my role is to show all communities that Black professionals are part of the fabric of NC State. NC State should look like the world.
NM: What has been your biggest challenge as a Black faculty/staff member?
DS: I feel like the biggest challenge is supporting students in environments that need systemic change. When things happen we want to be there for students in those situations, but we also recognize that there are systemic barriers that need to be addressed. It is challenging to be there for both of those things at once.
NM: What brought you to NC State?
DS: When I was a student, the meteorology major brought me to NC State. However, when I arrived, I met an amazing supportive African American college community (including my mentor, Dr. Wandra Hill) that helped me graduate. As an adult, the support I experienced while being a student at NC State brought me back. I want to give back and be the support for students as well.
NM: How do you feel your presence has influenced the Black student community at NCSU?
DS: I hope my presence, and that of my colleagues, let students know that they always have a community that supports them and people who will fight for them. I hope when students see me, and my colleagues, they know that we are aware of and part of Black history on this campus.