Community service award honorees have shown leadership through outreach both within and outside work. Two winners of this award at the 2023 BEYA STEM Conference help students with a unique “cradle-to-career” approach. Like Bonang Mohale, chancellor of the University of the Free State in South Africa and author of Lift As You Rise, people development defines the career and the lives of these BEYA winners.
Lewis Pate, Ph.D. (headline photo by Patricia McDougall) is currently the director of the cyber security operations center at CACI International. Earlier in his career, he served as a senior cyber operations officer and chief technology officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Dr. Pate is an enterprise solution architect at CACI International. In this role, he delivers technical solutions for large-scale projects to deploy seamlessly, integrate legacy with emerging technologies, and align people and processes. He has also dedicated his time to giving back to his community. He leverages over 20 years of experience in information technology (IT) and cybersecurity to serve as a mentor. Each year he teaches two entry-level, and advanced cybersecurity and IT courses to those looking to enter or advance in the STEM field. In addition, for the past three years, he has taught dozens of free IT and cybersecurity classes to more than 150 students seeking professional certifications. He also actively supports a nonprofit association dedicated to the academic and professional success of women and minorities in cyber security.
“I grew up in the ‘hood during the 1960s,” he said in his acceptance speech at the BEYA gala. “In the south, success was an elusive target, and dreams of becoming a productive, valued member of society seemed unachievable. Still, I thank God for his grace, and the visionaries who peered into my soul helped shape my character and challenged me never to forget my roots and share my blessings and talents with others. Together we beat the odds, and you can too.”
Anike Sakariyawo seeks to impact change in the world by creating innovative content, providing minority youth, parents, and educators equal opportunities to engage and have access to real-life science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) tools that will allow them to compete in a world that is constantly changing. Sakariyawo is the founding executive director of the S.E.E.K Foundation. She began a 15-year career as a kindergarten through a third-grade teacher in Title 1 schools.
“At an early age, I was engaged in two areas: education and entrepreneurship,” she told the audience. “I would play school with my sister, who was autistic and mentally disabled, teaching her how to write her name. My grandmother was an inspiration. She taught me how to braid hair. So, I began doing it myself and practiced with my best friend. I started negotiating the prices for braiding hair from the age of 12 up until college.”
Today, Ms. Sakariyawo uses her background in entrepreneurship to run an educational nonprofit. S.E.E.K stands for seeking education to empower knowledge. SEEK teaches children ages 5 through 18 how to build STEM products after school and exposes them to opportunities in STEM careers.