Black and Brilliant: Thriving in STEM at an HBCU

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Nia LaCour
Blog author Nia is standing in front of a large backdrop with the logos of HBCU Battle of the Brains and the NFL.

Pursuing computer science at an Historically Black College or University (HBCU) is a tapestry woven with challenges, triumph, and countless insights, many that come with being a first-generation Black woman in a field where diversity is often a rarity. Here are just a few that I have experienced in my time at an HBCU.

Choosing the Path

Choosing to major in computer science was an intentional decision, driven by a profound passion for technology and a desire to contribute to a field where more diversity is necessary, but lacking.

Navigating Challenges and Celebrating Triumphs

Life as a first-generation student presents itself as a long journey, characterized by a myriad of challenges and triumphs. The intricacies of deciphering complex programming problems to grappling with the stereotypes deeply rooted in the field of technology, has been challenging but also rewarding. The highs and lows of my academic journey serve as a vivid canvas, illustrating the resilience needed to navigate uncharted territories.


Mentorship is a crucial component of being successful in any field. Mentors, with their sage advice and unwavering support, have played an instrumental role in shaping not only the trajectory of my studies but also my understanding of the field. Their influence extends beyond academia, permeating into the essence of personal development.

Diversity and Inclusion

At the heart of my experience lies diversity within STEM at my HBCU. Being part of a community that embraces diversity and fosters inclusion has made a profound impact on both who I am as a student and who I am as a person. The unique environment of my university has not only enriched my education journey but has also become a catalyst for innovation, creativity, and a broader perspective on the possibilities within the realm of computer science.


In the face of challenges, resilience emerges as a constant companion. As I continue my journey, bouncing back, learning from failures, and keeping an unwavering determination all have propelled me forward. Resilience is not just a trait; it is an enduring narrative woven intricately into the fabric of my journey.

Inspiring the Next Generation

Other than my passion for technology and diversity, I also have a commitment to motivate the next generation. I come from a small town in south Louisiana, where the younger generation are not aware of all of the possibilities that can be offered to them. As a first-generation student, a Black woman, and a torchbearer for diversity in STEM, the responsibility to inspire others becomes a central theme. I strive to provide a blueprint for success in the face of adversity.

The collective journey we navigate together is a commitment to shaping a future where diversity is an undeniable part of technological innovation. As we traverse the dynamic landscape of STEM, the hope is for shared narratives to inspire and empower. As the journey continues, we strive for a reality where the pioneers of today pave the way for those of tomorrow.

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