Smart & Strong

Scholar-Baller Margo Batie

Growing up in tough South Central Los Angeles, Margo Batie rarely saw positive role models outside of her home.

“Both my parents have graduate degrees,” she explains. “My father is an entrepreneur, and my mother is an assistant vice president at a national insurance broker. Beyond that, there weren’t really people to look up to.”

Fortunately, Batie, like her parents, understood the power of education. At Crenshaw High School, she tackled an advanced magnet program, played three varsity sports, was part of the student government and graduated second in her class.

“I applied to 11 colleges, and nine accepted me,” she says. “I visited MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) during a weekend they hosted for high school students, and really loved the campus.”

Today, Batie is a senior at MIT with a double major in physics and nuclear engineering. At first, coming from the West Coast, she found the social environment on campus somewhat challenging.

“I was accustomed to going to a school with black and Hispanic classmates,” says Batie. “I had never seen this many white people in my life! Not everyone was respectful or understanding of my culture.”

Now 21, Batie has made friends in college from many walks of life. Brimming with confidence and energy, she pushes herself to excel in every area of her life.

“I study more than six hours a night. I’m often up ’til 5 a.m.,” says Batie. “It’s part of my lifestyle. I give 102 percent.”

A talented athlete, she played for two years on MIT’s Varsity Women’s Basketball Team and is now captain of the MIT Women’s Rugby Team.

“I get on the field and release my aggressions,” she says with a chuckle. 

Beyond academics and sports, Batie is active in other ways on campus, including with organizations for minority students. A leader of the MIT Black Students’ Union, she has helped plan events and has built relationships with nearby communities and universities.

She also serves on the board of MIT’s National Society of Black Engineers chapter, as chapter secretary.

“We have a great group,” says Batie about NSBE. “It’s a great support system in terms of helping us to achieve our goals.”

Her plans include getting a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and one day becoming a college professor. In the meantime, Batie has worked as a summer intern at two national laboratories, applying what she has learned in the classroom at MIT. At Fermilab, in Chicago, she was part of a team that designed a component of a linear accelerator capable of producing muons: subatomic particles in the same class as electrons.

In between all of these activities, Batie remains committed to giving back to her community, particularly to young minorities. She has advised and tutored high school students in math and science at the University of California, Berkeley. She also worked with CORE, a summer math program run by MIT for Boston high school students. Batie was a teaching assistant and says she thoroughly enjoyed it.

“For kids to know better, they have to see better,” she says. “I want to be the mentor I wish I had growing up.”

“I study more than six hours a night…. It’s part of my lifestyle. I give 102 percent.”