Brown Electrical Engineering
NeShante Morris Brown ’02
Dean of Students and Lead Math Teacher, The Soulsville Charter School
Why I chose electrical engineering
I studied electrical engineering at Princeton. My reason for choosing the department is complex and worth considering. As a grade school student, I wanted to be a pianist or a teacher. While in middle school, I was good in all subjects, and I enjoyed learning all of them. During that time, I attended a forum that addressed the lack of minorities (particularly black women) in the field of engineering, and from that moment on I began to think of engineering as something that I would like to tackle even though I was not entirely sure of what it was all about. I just knew that it was an application of the combination of math and science, and I knew that I was good at both and that I particularly enjoyed math. Plus, I was a young black woman. Engineering just seemed like a good fit. In high school, I continued to excel in everything, and the idea of tackling engineering still lingered in my mind. I ignored the fact that I took a particular interest in my high school psychology course and my AP English course as well as all types of math. As the time for preparing and submitting college applications came, I became unsure of focusing on engineering, and I applied to Princeton as a bachelor of arts candidate. After being accepted, I asked to change to the bachelor of science in engineering program. Princeton granted my request, and the rest was history.
Prior to applying to college, no one had emphasized to me the fact that it was okay not to be sure of my area of focus before stepping onto the Princeton campus. Not one person had emphasized the importance of following my inner passions in choosing my area of focus. I had only been exposed to the notion of choosing a focus that would land me a career where I could earn good money, and I knew that engineering would definitely do that.
A passion for teaching
After being immersed in engineering preparation my freshman year with math, chemistry, and physics, I declared my interest in pursuing electrical engineering at the end of my freshman year and never looked back except to wonder how things might have been different if I had chosen a different path. Along the way, I did stop to notice the fact that I enjoyed my nonengineering classes more than I enjoyed my engineering classes, but I felt as though I had gone too far to turn back. After taking great classes with excellent professors in the EQuad, I went on to accomplish my middle school goal of becoming a black woman in engineering by graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. I tried to fit the mold and sought out and was offered engineering positions, which I turned down. I ended up accepting a position as a math teacher in an inner-city middle school, and I am currently enjoying my job as the dean of students and the lead math teacher at The Soulsville Charter School in Memphis, Tennessee, where I am inspiring young middle school students to dream big, to go to college, and to be the best people they can be.
Although I am not an electrical engineer, my studies at Princeton have helped me tremendously. At Princeton and in the EE department, I became a great thinker and problem solver. I experienced education at its best with world-class professors, top-notch facilities, and highly motivated students of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. Because of my Princeton experience, I believe that I am better able to provide a world-class educational experience for my students. In my opinion, the best training I ever had in becoming an educator was experiencing education at Princeton.
For those who find themselves attempting to choose an area of focus, I both urge and insist upon careful consideration of inner passions. Allow plenty of guidance from others, but choose something that excites you! Choose something you love!