NSBE Profile: Building a Better Tomorrow

NSBE Profile: Chris BellSenior Chris Bell has been working since he was six years old. His step-father, a construction worker, put him to work at a young age, which lead Bell to want bigger and better. Now turning his attention to Industrial Engineering, the program what he will graduate from this May, as a young adult, Bell has interested in the business side of engineering, in management and logistics.

He grew up in an all-white family. As one of eight children, Bell admits that he never realized that never noticed the difference.

“I’m literally the black sheep of the family. NSBE helped me find the other side. That’s a thing about Speed School, when I was in high school, I was kicking ass. When I got in, I lost my scholarship. Grades got worse,” says Bell.

He adds, “That’s when NSBE helped. We all started connecting and forming study groups. By the end of sophomore or junior year, the older members starting graduating. I remember when I first came in, the Calculus class had like 150 students and only ten black kids. I was talking to a friend, and I only know one other person like me. It is crazy how few people there are in the STEM major.”

Bell recalls starting out with 10 or 15 students in NSBE, which has now grown to include approximately 75 members. The program has grown to work with organizations like the West End School, an academically rigorous, free boarding school for at-risk young men that NSBE works to tutor a few hours a week over the last year.

While his experiences are positively shaped by his work helping tutor high school students and by the growing number of fellow NSBE members, it wasn’t always so easy.

“You come in and you are the only one. It’s that feeling of you don’t want to reach out for help, because you feel inferior. Even the lunch room at UofL is segregated. It’s literally split. That’s the way the classrooms are too, except that they aren’t split evenly.”

Ultimately though, he admits, “That’s one thing I guess that helped me. Staying involved is big. I wish I would’ve come up in NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council) Greek life. It helps so much in how you identify, even if it’s not that, even if it’s a sorority of fraternity.”

Read more NSBE Profiles:
NSBE Profile: Speaking Out on Engineering and Community
NSBE Profile: Balancing the Future and the Past
NSBE Profile: Perseverance and Family
NSBE Profile: The Value