NACME Press Releases

Johnson Austin to Give Keynote Speech at Columbia Secondary Graduation

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June 11, 2015                                                                                                                                            (914) 539-4010, ext. 243

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Johnson Austin to Give Keynote Speech at Columbia Secondary Graduation


White Plains. N.Y. — Saundra Johnson Austin, Senior Vice President for Operations at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Inc., (NACME), has been invited to give the keynote speech for the Eighth Grade Moving Up Ceremony of The Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, & Engineering. The graduation ceremony will take place on Monday June 22nd at 5 p.m. The school is located at 425 West 123rd Street, New York, NY.

The Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, & Engineering (CSS-MSE) is a public, sixth through twelfth grade school that opened in the fall of 2007. A partnership between the New York City Department of Education, the community, and Columbia University, CSS-MSE serves academically talented students who have an interest in a rigorous and demanding program focusing on math, science, and engineering. The school reached full enrollment of close to 700 students during the 2013-2014 school year and graduated its first class of seniors in June, 2014.

"As a key panelist and speaker at an educational leadership conference, Saundra's experience and professionalism were perfectly complimented by her approachability and speaking acumen,” said Dan Novak, Assistant Principal, CSS-MSE. “Inspired by these obvious characteristics, an impressive engineering career, and a consistent track record of advocacy for our aspiring minority youth, we invited Saundra to serve as the keynote speaker for the moving up ceremony of our diverse and dedicated eighth grade students. We know that her words and experience will inspire this next generation of engineers and professionals to pursue their dreams!"

Ms. Johnson Austin earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. She began her career at Bechtel Power Corporation in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where she worked in project controls, estimating, and business development.

In 1994, she became director of the Minority Engineering Program in the College of Engineering at Penn State. In 1998, she was recognized with the National Society of Black Engineers’ Golden Torch Award for Minority Engineering Program Director of the Year and the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) Outstanding Contribution by a Minority Engineering Program Administrator Award. In 2015, she was named the recipient of the Outstanding Engineering Alumna Award for Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State.

Johnson Austin left Penn State in 2000 to become head of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science at the University of Notre Dame. In 2005, she was named executive vice president of the Community Partnership for Lifelong Learning in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Later she served as the first president and CEO of St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 2008-2010. She is also a graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s Executive MBA Program.

In her current role at NACME, she supports the president and CEO on key organizational and strategic direction and is responsible for the execution of programs, research, communications, and engineering public policy. She currently resides in White Plains, New York.

‘It was an unexpected honor to be asked to give the keynote address to this promising group of eighth graders,” said Ms. Johnson Austin. “I will do my best to impart to these young people the value of hard work and that they should take an expansive view in thinking about their career goals. This is a crucial point to convey the opportunities and rewards that await them in the STEM field.”

Saundra Johnson Austin112

Saundra Johnson Austin


About NACME: Since its inception in 1974, NACME has stayed true to its mission: To ensure American competitiveness in a flat world by leading and supporting the national effort to expand U.S. capability through increasing the number of successful African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.

NACME Scholars hold leadership positions in industry, medicine, law, education, and government. With funding from corporate, foundation, and individual donors, NACME has supported more than 24,000 students with more than $142 million in scholarships and support, and currently has more than 1,300 scholars at 51 partner institutions across the country. NACME is also implementing a middle school through community college strategy to increase the proportion of underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines.

About CSS-MSE: Columbia Secondary is a selective, public, college preparatory school with a focus on science, math, and engineering. Its program of study provides a challenging academic experience that prepares its students for selective colleges; for careers in science, math, and engineering; and for a life of civic engagement and ethical responsibility CSS-MSE trains students to be socially and politically conscious, to be aware of their responsibility to their communities and the world, and to be dedicated to a life of creation and discovery in service of humanity.





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