Leading by example
Engineering student Naomie Seh Abomo receives one of Canada’s premier university awards
Engineering student Naomie Seh Abomo receives one of Canada’s premier university awardsBy Angie Docking Faculty of Engineering
Naomie Seh Abomo, a fourth-year civil engineering student at the University of Waterloo, has been awarded Canada’s 3M National Student Fellowship Award. She is one of just 10 students from across the country to receive this prestigious national fellowship in recognition of her outstanding leadership and dedication to her community.
Seh Abomo is the first Waterloo Engineering student to receive this honour. Awarded by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STHLE), the fellowship honours students who embrace a vision of education that enhances their academic experience beyond the classroom.
“Much of my academic journey has involved finding the best learning strategies for me, so I’m passionate about making learning accessible to all, and I try to incorporate that in all that I do,” Seh Abomo says. “To be named a fellow, where I’ll connect with nine other like-minded students who feel as passionate about education as I do, is truly an honour.”
As a 3M fellow, Seh Abomo will receive up to $15,000 in funding to complete a project on teaching and learning to be presented at STHLE’s annual conference in June.
Making space for equity-deserving groups
When Seh Abomo came to Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering, she was eager to find a community and committed to making this vision a reality.
In 2019, six Engineering students, including Seh Abomo and upper-year engineering student Yasmin Ahmed, founded the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Waterloo chapter. NSBE brings Black engineers together and creates spaces for them to connect, network and learn about professional and academic development opportunities. Seh Abomo served as vice-president and president during the organization's foundational years. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, NSBE has grown from its initial six founders to more than 500 members, including Engineering alumni and prospective students.
In less than four years, the organization has scored partnerships with Google, Stantec and Smith + Andersen to provide workshops, skill development sessions and job opportunities for students.
Seh Abomo also serves as a student equity consultant, which involves bringing an anti-racism lens to Waterloo’s co-operative education program to ensure students feel safe, supported and knowledgeable about their rights in the workplace.
“Naomie has a true passion for change, and she has the unique skills, empathetic nature and visionary drive to make it happen,” says Yonael Debebe, a Systems Design Engineering student who also served as NSBE’s president and nominated Seh Abomo for the award.
“She knows how to get things done and empowers those around her to be the best versions of themselves. Her vision and drive were integral to fuelling NSBE to change the narrative of what engineers can look like.”
Inspiring the next generation
As part of her community outreach work, Seh Abomo speaks to upper-year high school students within the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, encouraging them to pursue their dreams, believe in themselves and embrace the lessons failure can teach. She is also the creator of the online community Sehintific, where she produces videos encouraging people of all ages to engage in science.
She credits her parents, high school math teacher Mr. Mac, civil engineering lecturer Dr. David Brush, fellow student Yasmin Ahmed and the whole NSBE team for their support and belief in her ability to make a difference.
“Naomie has made the most of every minute of her time at the University of Waterloo, from her academic excellence in the classroom to her dedication to enriching the Waterloo Engineering community,” says Dr. Mary Wells, dean of Engineering.
“She is an impressive young woman who’s just getting started. We are so proud of everything she’s already achieved.”
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The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.