Statler College to host first student-led diversity conference
West Virginia University's Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources will host All Voices as ONE: Together We Can Innovate and Shape the Future, the first student-led conference celebrating the exchange of personal experiences, values, beliefs and views that arise from differences of culture, ethnicity, language, gender, age, race, religion, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and more.
Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Held on Thursday October 27, from 1:30 - 5 p.m., at the Engineering Sciences Building, the event is open to students, faculty, staff and alumni of the Statler College. Pre-registration on the conference website was required.
Sponsored by the Statler College Office of Student, Faculty and Staff Engagement, the conference will be a moment of celebration of who we are in the Statler College community through an open forum of discussions in a safe and collaborative space for all students and alumni.
“Part of my vision for the Statler College is to cultivate a culture of excellence that respects and promotes every individual by championing a supportive and welcoming environment for all,” said Pedro J. Mago, Glen H. Hiner Dean and welcome speaker.
The event will begin with opening remarks from Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for the WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Meshea Poore.
“I am very proud of the students in the Statler College for leading this conference. For a long time, our students have made it clear that they see Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a priority,” Poore said. “Our students want to know they can be their authentic selves and still succeed in the classroom, in their personal lives, and in the workforce. An environment of belonging and acceptance can only happen when we all take a genuine interest in one another. This conference is an opportunity for students, faculty, administrators and alumni to come together, share their experiences, and ensure an inclusive environment is possible.”
From the student experience to Statler College alumni, Olayemi Akinkugbe and Bevin VanGilder will deliver keynote speeches and share their engineering success stories.
Akinkugbe graduated from WVU in 2005 with a master's degree in mining engineering, and currently serves as Chief Excellence Officer for CNX Resources Corporation, a position he has held since 2019. Akinkugbe oversees all operational and corporate support functions for the company and is also responsible for providing services to facilitate safe, environmentally compliant and efficient operational execution, rigorous corporate spend management and overall daily administration of the enterprise. Prior to assuming this role, Akinkugbe served as Director of Virginia Operations since 2018 and held various other positions with increasing responsibility since joining CNX in 2003.
VanGilder graduated from WVU in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering and went on to join Chervon as a reservoir engineer in the same year. VanGilder held positions of increasing responsibility at Chevron over the years, including numerous roles in Kazakhstan, Angola and the United States. She was recently appointed as Lower Carbon Director for Chevron’s Oil, Products, and Gas organization in October 2022, after serving as the upstream carbon reduction director since April 2021. In this new role, she is responsible for helping to advance Chevron’s efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of the oil, gas, and products the company produces and sells. Since 2012, VanGilder has served on WVU’s Petroleum Engineering Advisory Committee, which is responsible for ensuring graduating students have the necessary skills to be marketable.
“The two speakers of this keynote session will come in with their true stories of success, from their own lives. I believe those relatable stories are inspiring,” said Cerasela Zoica Dinu, Associate Dean of the Office of Student, Faculty and Staff Engagement in the Statler College. “The speakers will help our audience to reflect that we each play an integral role today and tomorrow in the workforce we will be part of and the success of our community,”
The keynote session will be followed by an alumni mentoring panel that will be moderated by students in the organizing committee of the conference.
Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with more than a dozen panelists including students from the Statler College and industry professionals from Chevron, CNX Resources Corporation, The Hershey Company, Hino Motors Manufacturing, Emerson Automation Solutions, ASP Energy Services and Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University. The panelists will discuss three topics: overcoming barriers and thriving in a complex and diverse environment, guidance on work-family-life balance, and perspectives on different career paths.
“Students connecting with our alumni will open the door for emerging networking and mentoring opportunities for their future careers,” Mago said. “I am a strong believer that our alumni involvement, experiences and successes motivate our students to further thrive in their college experiences and beyond.”
The event will conclude with a showcase of culturally diverse hors d’oeuvres and poster presentations from students, student organizations and various College departments that highlight their diversity, recent activities, current projects and achievements. The poster competition will be judged by alumni, and monetary awards that recognize academic achievements of students or academic units will be offered.
The conference organizers and moderators include WVU students Benjamin Akoh, Vitor Gama, Amirah Mitchell, Olivia Rose and Raafay Uqaily from the chemical and biomedical engineering department, Samuel Ogunfuye and Joshua Caswell from mechanical and aerospace engineering and Marcela Mera Trujillo from the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The students are volunteers and part of the Statler Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.
To learn more, visit the All Voices as ONE website.
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office: