Humans of UK: Engineering alum Savannah Lewis
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 3, 2023) — With origins dating back to 1915, today, Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of Black Americans across U.S. history and society — from activists and civil rights pioneers to leaders in industry, politics, science and culture.
At the University of Kentucky, that sentiment holds true.
In celebrating Black History Month, throughout February UK’s social media channels are featuring Black students, faculty, staff and alumni who have shared their stories of what Black History Month means to them and why it is important.
Today, UK graduate Savannah Lewis is featured.
Lewis graduated from UK in December 2022 with a degree in electrical engineering. During her time at UK, she also served as vice president of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) student chapter. She achieved many milestones throughout her engineering journey, from accepting a co-op position with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center to being awarded the 2020 Outstanding Junior Award from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
As the first person in her family to pursue a bachelor’s degree and study engineering, Lewis describes the feeling as daunting yet amazing. She said she felt unprepared for what was coming, but now every accomplishment she achieves means so much to her.
“Also knowing that I am helping this profession become more diverse by increasing representation makes me extremely proud,” Lewis said.
Read more about what inspires Lewis and why she celebrates Black History Month below.
“What does Black History Month mean to you and why is it important?”
Lewis: There's so much history that is untold in our normal K-12 curriculum in the U. S. because it's only told from one perspective. Before high school or college, I never knew about half the Black influential people throughout history We were only told about just Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass and MLK and maybe how famous people of the Black renaissance thrilled, but these are only small snippets of a larger timeline. Having a month dedicated to diving deeper into more influential and less promoted great Black people forces a lot of Americans to see history from a different point of view and include all those who were erased or forgotten throughout time. It's my hope that Black history becomes more vocalized and appreciated to the point that February isn't the only month where these stories will be told and uplifted.
“Who has been your biggest inspiration?”
Lewis: My biggest inspiration is my parents. They both were always passionate hard workers who dedicated themselves to taking care of their loved ones. They were also dedicated to dream bigger and do more. Both went back to college to get their associate degrees while I was in middle school. Over 40, full-time workers and nontraditional students they beat the odds and excelled, they even made the Dean's List a few times. That really made me want to chase all my dreams, because they never gave up or put an expiration date on theirs.
“What motivates you?”
Lewis: My motivation stems from a huge longing of knowledge. Even as a kid, I wanted to know everything, read every book, learn every word and know what everything was. My family kept encyclopedias in the house, and I can still go back and see little scribbles, highlights and notes I would write in them, you'd think I was studying or something. But I just loved doing that, because the more I knew, the more capable and powerful I felt. And that's what has carried me through today, my longing to stay curious and learn more
“Are there any Black public figures who have spoken about mental health who inspire you?”
Lewis: Most recently, I saw one of my favorite young, rising actors, Abraham Da'Vinchi ("BMF") spoke about mental health coming into 2023. He focused on how important "mind reading" is or in other words being able to focus on, work through and uplift your thoughts or feelings by way of therapy. In the Black community it is often hard to express emotion or feelings without feeling rejected, less-than or inadequate. I'm so glad that that narrative is finally changing and people are speaking out more about an issue that is more common than most believe. I myself struggled a lot with anxiety and depression throughout college and I'm extremely grateful that I took the time to go to therapy and get help, it's definitely a huge outlet.
Follow along with this social media series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and on digital signage across campus.
For more information on the university's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, visit the DEI website. The DEI website is home to information about DEI-related resources available to faculty, staff and students; events and organizations; news and campus messages; and updates on DEI efforts around campus.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.