Virginia Tech’s five newest members of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society were inducted during a recent ceremony at Yale University.

Mayra S. Artiles, Erika L. Bass, Racheida S. Lewis, Ashley R. Taylor, and Ayesha L. Yousafzai are the fifth group of students to join the Virginia Tech chapter of the honor society. They were chosen for their outstanding scholarly achievement and for promoting diversity and excellence, said Shernita Lee, Graduate School director of recruitment, diversity, and inclusion.

Established in 2005 by Yale and Howard universities, the society is named for the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States. Edward Bouchet graduated from Yale College in 1874 and earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1876.

Virginia Tech is one of 17 university partners with Bouchet Society chapters. The society’s goal is to create a network of scholars and professionals who serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.”

Mayra S. Artiles is a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education. Before pursuing her doctoral degree, she worked at Ford Motor Company as an electrified vehicles thermal engineer for four years. In her Ph.D. program, she has collaborated in multiple research projects on diversity in engineering, institutional support for minority students, intercultural competency development in engineering students, and doctoral student motivation. Her current research focuses on understanding the advisor selection processes practiced in STEM programs and the experiences of doctoral students and faculty. Artiles is a research assistant for the National Science Foundation-funded program, The Dissertation Institute, where she studies the motivation of underrepresented minorities in doctoral engineering programs. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and a master’s degree with a focus on nanotechnology from Purdue University.

Erika L. Bass is a Ph.D. candidate in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in English education. Her research focuses on preparing preservice teachers to integrate reading and writing instruction, writing instruction in general, and rural populations. Bass has worked for three years on a federally funded Jacob K. Javits grant that serves rural populations and focuses her research on underserved populations. She has worked with Supporting Autism Friendly Environments to ensure that the program meets its goals of serving the community. She has published two articles during her tenure as a doctoral student. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary integrated language arts from The University of Akron and a master’s degree in English from Radford University.

Racheida S. Lewis is a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education. Her research focuses on the impact of different first-year engineering programs have on self-efficacy development of electrical engineering students. She is a Gates Millennium Scholar, GEM Associate Fellow, New Horizon Scholar, associate member of the Virginia Tech Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence, and has earned the Preparing Future Faculty certificate. Lewis, who is a leader in the National Society of Black Engineers, said she believes in creating a diverse engineering field and strives to do so through connecting with, teaching, and mentoring future engineers. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia.

Ashley R. Taylor is a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education and serves as director of Pathways for Future Engineers, a program in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity designed to support first-generation students and their families on the pathway from high school to an engineering degree. Taylor’s interest in reducing educational inequities stems from what she has learned from her home community in rural Appalachia. Her doctoral research examines the educational journeys of students from underserved backgrounds, using narrative interviews to explore how students use agency to navigate barriers. She has also conducted research in the areas of diversity and inclusion in engineering, and her work has been published in the Journal of Engineering Education (forthcoming) and proceedings of Frontiers in Education and the American Society for Engineering Education. Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and master of public health degree from Virginia Tech.

Ayesha L. Yousafzai is a Ph.D. candidate in higher education. Her research focuses on identity performance experiences of Muslim international women. She will present on the Narrative of Identity Performance among Muslim international women at the American College Personnel Association conference and is working on a book chapter. She received the Preparing Future Professoriate certificate of completion, Women’s and Gender Studies certificate of completion, and the Don G. Creamer Research Award. Ayesha has worked as a doctoral student at the Student Success Center and College Access Collaborative. She has taught Academics Success Strategies courses to help underperforming students improve their academic performance and served as a graduate representative on the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

Written by Cathy Grimes