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AISES Region 7 Conference breaks records; raises $45,000

“What else can I say but outstanding,” AISES Vice Chair William Tiger stated. Tiger is a member of the Miccosukee Tribe in Florida. He is one of the elders that was honored during the opening ceremonies for the recent AISES conference at Robeson Community College, which stands for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

Not realizing that one day RCC would be the host site, Tiger says he frequently drove by the college as he made his way up and down I-95, traveling to take his daughter to college.

“I have passed by here many times,” Tiger said. “And here we are today, it was a beautiful opening ceremony. This has been one of the best district conferences I have attended. It has been well organized and the attendance records have been shattered, job well done Robeson Community College.”

Vice Chair William Tiger, left, stands with keynote speaker Dr. Jada Brooks, center, and others after the opening ceremonies for the AISES Region 7 conference at Robeson Community College.

The AISES Region 7 conference was held in April with 250 individuals attending, representing eight states and the District of Columbia, making it one of the highest-attended conferences in Zone 7. The conference featured two keynote speakers, UNC Chapel Hill Professor Dr. Jada Brooks and Microsoft Executive Zachary Oxendine, both with Robeson County roots and members of the Lumbee Tribe.

Conference-goers had a chance to learn about engineering, technology, and more during break-out sessions from organizations such as NASA and ETI. The conference came to a close with AISES Fest which included a powwow with local arts, crafts, and food vendors.

“This was a phenomenal conference and an amazing opportunity for our community,” RCC President Melissa Singler stated. “I enjoyed seeing our youth and community partake in the various workshops and culturally enriching activities that taught students more about the Indigenous heritage of Robeson County and the Southeast. We are so thankful to all of our sponsors, without the generosity of our community partners, this ‘chance of a lifetime’ for our students would not have been possible. And now with an established endowment, your contributions will help impact students at Robeson Community College for many generations to come.”

Thanks to an outpouring of support from the region, the conference was able to generate $45,000. The proceeds from the conference were used to provide eight $500 scholarships to students attending, and as Singler mentioned, establish an endowment at Robeson Community College.

“The $10,000 endowment will be an asset in providing scholarships to RCC AISES members in the future,” stated Singler. “We cannot thank our sponsors enough for their overwhelming support of the Region 7 AISES Conference at Robeson Community College… we have set the bar high.”

As Vice Chair Tiger stated, “Region 7 is small but mighty.”

The AISES chapter at UNCP will be gifted $1000 and $500 will be given to the NC Professional AISES chapter, as both assisted in collaboration efforts and in planning the event. The remaining funds after conference expenses will be used to assist students at Robeson Community College with travel to attend future AISES activities and opportunities.   

The students who received scholarships were:

  • Lucas Ayers, Robeson Community College
  • Dulce Sanchez Moralez, RCC Early College
  • Angie Marie Cortez, RCC Early College
  • Kenyonna Deese, UNCP
  • Jazmine Locklear, UNCP
  • Mackenzie Locklear, Virginia Tech
  • Kiara Ehle, Virginia Tech
  • Kevin Hernandez, Virginia Tech

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The AISES conference was presented by the RCC First Americans’ Pathway to STEM Success (FAPSS) grant, the RCC AISES Chapter and –

Eagle Sponsors: Lumbee Tribe Holding, Inc., Duke Energy, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the USDA, the United States Intelligence Community, NASA, Lumberton Visitors Bureau, Merck.

Turtle Sponsors: Metcon, Dominion Energy, and Lumbee Tribal Council Members – Jody Bullard, Yvonne Dial, Josephine Doss, Bobby Emanuel, Homer Fields, Gerald Goolsby, Kathy Hunt, Kristie Hunt, Richard Jones, Rudy Locklear, Wendy Moore, Billy Oxendine, Chocajuana Oxendine, Annie Taylor, ETI – James Freeman, and Cummings Aerospace

Bear Sponsors: Michael Locklear – MR Electric and Security Alarms, Inc, Primary Health Choice, USDA – Florence, Chemours, Freese and Nichols, Susan McNeill Concessions, Pfizer, and Robin Jacobs.

Deer Sponsors: Kenneth Bowen, Sheriff Burnis Wilkins, Lumbee River EMC, Northeastern-Khoury College of Computer Science, Patterson’s Steak and Grill, Boles Funeral Home, Michael Jacobs, Triangle UXPA, Daniell Perez, MaDukes Sweets & Treats, Scott Lamm, Bio Pharma Professional Services LLC, Worriax Backhoe Service, NC Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (NCLSAMP) grant at UNCP, State Farm – Corbin Eddings, Lumbee Outfitters, Hunt’s Tire, Jarrod Lowery – State Representative, Faline Dial – County Commissioner, Lumbee Regional Development Association (LRDA), Judy Sampson – County Commissioner, Department of Agriculture – Florence, SC; The Luna Tree, LLC; NC Commission of Indian Affairs; Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center NC State; CQue Food/Vending, John Cummings – County Commissioner, Ginger Oxendine, Fran’s Favorites, Loretta Allen, Cisco, Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Lemonade Stand LLC, Phil Co Food Truck, Icebreakers Snowball, Alfred Bryant, Pine Skies Co., Candice Brooks, and Dr. Velinda Woriax.

The event was spearheaded by RCC’s Loretta Allen and the RCC AISES planning committee which included students, faculty, and staff from RCC – Ursula Adams, Kristy Blue, Dr. Kenneth Bowen, Jamie Collins, Valerie Deese, Vonda Graham, William Hunt, Megan Locklear, Scottie Locklear, Kaitlyn Lyons, Stephanie McNeill, Derek Miller, Samantha Oxendine, Myia Reyes, and Heath Worriax.


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