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    Strategic Systems Programs Welcomes Inaugural HBCU Intern Cohort

    Strategic Systems Programs Welcomes Inaugural HBCU Intern Cohort

    Photo By Delaney Burlingame | WASHINGTON (June 28, 2023) - Strategic Systems Programs welcomed its inaugural class...... read more read more



    Story by Shelby Thompson 

    Strategic Systems Programs

    WASHINGTON NAVY YARD – Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) welcomed its inaugural class of interns from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Minority Institutions (MI) at an event at SSP Headquarters on Wednesday, where volunteers and mentors introduced themselves to the new intern class and validated the importance of initiatives such as this throughout the Navy.

    SSP launched its HBCU/MI Outreach Cohort in summer 2022. Part of the cohort’s mission is to engage in outreach to educate HBCU/MI students on SSP opportunities. The 2023 Summer Interns include Jayla Bryant (North Carolina A&T), Emmanuel Faulkner (Norfolk State University), and Joaquin Vanderhorst (Morgan State University). These interns are assigned throughout SSP, and will take on challenges in areas such as contracting, systems engineering, and technical evaluations and assessments.

    In 2020, the Navy stood up Task Force One Navy, with the purpose of identifying and making recommendations to dismantle existing barriers to equality within the Service, including racial bias. Since then, there have been multiple aligned efforts taking root within the Navy, including HBCU/MI Outreach cohorts and HBCU STEM initiatives established at systems commands such as SSP.

    The SSP-cohort is part of Department of Navy efforts to expand HBCU/MI recruitment and support STEM activities at institutions historically underrepresented in Navy outreach efforts. The SSP program provides HBCI/MI-affiliated SSP personnel the support and tools to expand outreach to these institutions and their students, build and strengthen strategic partnerships, and highlight the opportunities at SSP designed to expand the talent pipeline such as student internships.

    “SSP is a place where you can drive your career. You feel like you can make a difference at a very young age, and that encourages people to stay in the program.” said Fernandes Boyd, a cohort leader and Morgan State alumni.

    Brishauna Hawkins-Wesson, a cohort member, knows that consistent workforce participation is the best way to ensure the positive momentum of the program. The demand for peer and leadership mentors is expected to increase as the program expands.

    “Our cohort is seeking out individuals who are interested in being a mentor and being a guiding light for these interns,” Ms. Hawkins-Wesson said.

    The internships facilitated by the HBCU/MI cohort have far-reaching impacts, lasting beyond the summer.

    “This will help me become a better mentor at my own school,” said intern Emmanuel Faulkner. “This program and the cohort will help me help my mentees when I return.”

    SSP is engaged in a concerted effort to expand future opportunities and strengthen the HBCU/MI program.

    “We should consider recruiting from HBCU/MIs when trying to build and diversify our workforce,” according to Torrie MacCutcheon, an HBCU graduate and cohort leader.

    SSP’s HBCU/MI cohort is part of the most recent push by the Navy to increase diversity within both its military and civilian workforce. In remarks delivered at this year’s White House Black History Month Engagement with Student Veterans and ROTC students from HBCUs, Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks reiterated the need for a diverse Navy in all areas.

    “With global challenges as robust as we're facing and with a workforce as massive as ours, we need problem solvers of all kinds to sort them out and ensure that our national security needs are met. So, we need engineers, we need data scientists, and we need mathematicians,” said Hicks.

    Strategic Systems Programs is the Navy command that provides cradle-to-grave lifecycle support for the sea-based leg of the nation’s nuclear triad. This includes training, systems, equipment, facilities and personnel responsible for ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nation’s Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Trident II (D5LE) strategic weapon system.



    Date Taken: 06.29.2023
    Date Posted: 06.29.2023 14:25
    Story ID: 448309

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