Liberal Arts to Chemical Engineering: MESA helps student hit his stride
2012-04-13 · By Editor
Eleven years ago, at the age of 22, Uduak Ntuk was dissatisfied. He was playing college football in Texas, but he didn’t feel like he was making progress in life.
Ntuk knew that engineering was a high-paying career, so as a young father and husband, he returned to his home state of California and started attending CSU Long Beach in 2000.
At CSULB Ntuk heard about MESA from other students. With the program’s help he transitioned from taking liberal arts courses to navigating engineering classes as a chemical engineering major.
Ntuk’s life was extremely busy at the time. He was juggling college, work, rearing a toddler and caring for his disabled father. But MESA helped Ntuk organize his life to achieve his goal of graduating as an engineer. With help from MESA he earned scholarships, became involved with organizations such as National Society of Black Engineers and found internships.
“MESA helped me feel not so alone in class,” Ntuk said. “It was a support group and a way to leverage best practices from other engineering students who could relate to the challenges I was facing.”
Ntuk’s dedication paid off. He worked at the CSULB MESA center as an academic advisor to lower division students. He studied abroad in China and London. Through conferences— and with mock interview training from MESA— he landed internships at General Electric and Chevron. The Chevron stint led to full-time jobs after he attained his coveted chemical engineering degree. By then Ntuk had hit his stride, earning a master’s degree in petroleum engineering from University of Southern California while working at Chevron.
“I feel indebted to MESA for the opportunities it gave to me,” he said. “A (science, technology, engineering and math) career path can lift people out of poverty and into comfortable living wage jobs like no other.”
Today Ntuk is as busy as ever. He is a Petroleum Engineer for the City of Long Beach. He’s an Industry Advisory Board member for the USC Center for Engineering Diversity and a board member of a Pacific Gateway Youth Council and Environmental Charter High School in the Lawndale area.