The latest publication of data from the American Society For Engineering Education (ASEE) identified GameAbove as the engineering college with the highest percentage of African American students enrolled and graduated in the state of Michigan.
The state average for the percentage of African American students at Michigan colleges is 4.6%, while EMU’s percentage is 11.4%. It was additionally reported that GameAbove holds the highest percentage of African American students graduating from a technology or engineering program, reaching 10.5% while the state average has dropped to just 3.1%.
This notable ranking received both shocked and unruffled responses from enrolled students at GameAbove. Current senior, Janae Spears, pursuing a degree in Product Design Engineering Technology, was unsurprised by the fact. She noted that EMU is located in a lower-income area with a higher population of African American individuals, and the promising programs offered by GameAbove at a manageable cost allow EMU to be a consistent option for local students.
Senior EMU student Chinedu Terry-Daniel Ifemeje, pursuing Electrical and Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science, was initially surprised by this ranking but identified that it made sense. He expressed that EMU feels like an expansion of Ypsilanti, and younger students in the area easily gravitate to it as a financially doable extension of their education.
“From a macro perspective, this college actually having an engineering program and offering it, I think all these kids that grew up in less privileged areas now have new opportunities,“ Tery-Daniel Ifemeje said.
Additionally, as a student that was not born in Michigan, Ifemeje highlights that EMU’s offering of in-state tuition to out-of-state students was his primary reason for attending. Finances tend to dictate a student’s path more than their genuine passion.
While EMU continues to be an affordable option, the College of Engineering only became one that students enthusiastically sought after its recent renovation. $40 million was spent to renovate and expand GameAbove’s main building, funded by a diverse group of benevolent alumni from EMU.
One of the most significant developments in the College of Engineering is the new majors and programs added including electrical and computer engineering as well as product design engineering technology, giving students more options at a similar price point.
EMU is Ifemeje’s third academic institution since immigrating to the United States from Lagos, Nigeria. Diversity at GameAbove is wide with Ifemeje noting that every professor in his major is a person of color.
“Our dean is Palestinian, so it feels diverse from the top down. I don’t think diversity has ever been their issue.”
He encourages faculty at EMU to stop attempting to follow the path of bigger academic institutions with larger donors and focus on identifying what makes this institution better, such as rankings like these.
"We do have the diversity and the most important thing about having that diversity is that you have different thinkers. You have people that can think outside the box. And I don't think Eastern has utilized that properly,“ Ifemeje said.
Junior Chidera Ezeokonkwo is enrolled in EMU’s computer science program with a minor in computer engineering. Similarly, she immigrated to the United States from Lagos, Nigeria. Ezeokonkwo found the ranking difficult to believe when asked about GameAbove’s diversity.
“From where I’m standing, I just don’t see them. But 10% is not that high, so I understand why I can’t see them,” Ezeokonkwo said.
While EMU has attained this title, some question if it's something to be proud of or a sad reminder of a general lack of representation in other institutions. GameAbove’s faculty does include a range of individuals with different ethnicities that seem to be dependent on the major.