I have yet to blog this fiscal year. I do most of my interactions and engagement with the membership in person and via social media. The recent events of gun violence in the United States, however, have hit home for our Society. Twice last month. At Purdue University a student was shot and killed in the engineering building and at South Carolina State University (SCSU) a former NSBE Jr. member was shot and killed. At Purdue, NSBE students were unharmed. The same was not true at SCSU. Such news brings anxiety to me. Friends and family send us off to school with an expectation to get phone calls and reports of great academic and scholastic achievement. In the circumstance of Purdue and SCSU, friends and family received emails, texts or calls about fatal news. Many, I'm sure, were thankful their loved ones were safe. But there were still those who had to receive a call or visit from the police informing that their loved one has passed away. No words.

Even as we promote increasing more black females in STEM , I am sorrowed that we are not well vested to stop the chaos of killing black male excellence. Two former NSBE Jr. members, Chuck Pitts and Brandon Robinson, have died to senseless violent behavior. 

Both young men were academic scholars.

Both young men aspired to be engineers.

Both young men did not live pass 20. 

Their lives were abundant and filled with opportunities. But, ignorance deprived them of achieving their dreams. For what? Why? Those two questions I'm sure remain unanswered not just to me, but also the family, friends and communities that loved these talented successful young black men.

When news like this occurs, many times people wonder whether NSBE leadership is aware of the circumstances? The answer is yes! We are very much aware. Sukari Brown, Region I Chairperson was a mentor to Chuck Pitts at a camp in Syracuse University. The day after he passed I received a text message sharing the devastating news. "Sossena he was so smart he was great at math. He should not have went like this." This was a horrible message to read as I boarded a plane. I was just as impacted shortly after hearing about Brandon. Thus, I decided to write this blog. I decided to pay tribute to Chuck during two appearances I made at Region III and Region II Fall Regional Conferences. I challenged the membership to think of how we are truly impacting our communities when students we mentor are being taken away from us prematurely. Why? Why must such occurrences happen? 

Brandon Robinson made it to college and attended South Carolina State University. He was a member of the Orangeburg NSBE Jr. chapter. In fact, he was one of the founding members of the chapter and he was a part of the chapter when they won the NSBE Jr. chapter of the year in 2010 in Toronto, Canada. I am a leader from Region II and anyone from Region II knows the energy that lives among this region. It breaks my heart that I more than likely met Brandon at a conference and we spoke or passed similar paths.

Whenever I hear such news, my heart is heavy. It's heavy because we lost another member. But I am even more burdened because these young black men were beacons of light for their families and communities. They stood and presented promise to changing the devastating statistics of the black male, who increasingly are not graduating from high school. They were not just young men who barely saw themselves achieving a high school diploma. They were young black males who saw their future with a college degree from a distinguished university and so much more. They were going to be the success stories the world is always waiting to see. From what I've gathered, their personalities would have proudly announced: "I am here!" Yet instead their dreams are no more and their existence is a scar on the hearts of loved ones. I pray that such instances cease and we as a people and young generation begin to see that violence is not the answer. We cannot penetrate and increase the number of educated black men if we cannot stop the notion to exterminate the number of educated black men. 

Please let's stand as a community to mentor our young men and children to make intelligent and wise choices for their futures. I hope we can come together to empower them to ensure they have a positive sphere of influence that encourages and promotes them to have great success. 

May you Rest in Peace Chuck 'Chuckie' Pitts and Brandon Robinson. May God comfort and restore your loved ones with only his love.

This is dedicated to you, Kings of Black Excellency, from me with NSBE Love. 

Sossena Wood 

NSBE National Chairperson, 2013-14

Even as we promote increasing more black females in STEM , I am sorrowed that we are not well vested to stop the chaos of killing black male excellence. Two former NSBE Jr. members, Chuck Pitts and Brandon Robinson, have died to senseless violent behavior.