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HBCU students shine at national innovation summit

3 min | february 07, 2024

For Jordan Washington, a Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholar, an impressive pitch at the 2022 Chevron Energy Innovation Summit landed him a summer internship. Now, he’s preparing for his first full-time job after graduation.

Getting discovered doesn’t just happen in Hollywood. Just ask Jordan Washington, a senior biological engineering student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA&T).

The 23-year-old from Baltimore, Maryland, didn’t get his big career break from an online job application or in-person interview. His talent, tenacity and tangible solutions about renewable energy wowed judges during a national business pitch competition. His winning efforts landed him a summer internship at Chevron—and fueled his early career path.

“As a student at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), this level of visibility is huge,” said Washington, now in his final semester.

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Washington’s career journey began at the 2022 Chevron Energy Innovation Summit in Houston, Texas. The three-day event is designed to discover the best and brightest engineering talent from HBCUs.

During the competition, Washington and other select students from across the country were challenged with a case study about renewable energy. On the final day, they pitched design and business solutions to a panel of expert judges.

The event is part of Chevron’s $2 million commitment to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund—the nation’s largest organization representing the Black college community and a vital resource for K-12 education.

top talent takes the stage

Hariprasad Janakiram Subramani, strategic relationship manager for Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV), provided mentoring for students during the competition. He and his team noticed Washington’s energetic participation and performance throughout the event. On the strength of that performance, Washington was offered a summer internship with CTV.

“I was impressed by Jordan’s enterprising personality, curiosity and willingness to quickly learn new topical areas,” he said.

why it matters

According to the U.S. Department of Education, an estimated 40% of Black engineers graduate from HBCUs. In fact, Washington’s school—NCA&T—is the top producer of Black engineers in the country.
However, NCA&T and other land-grant HBCUs have been underfunded by as much as $12.8 billion over the last three decades compared to other schools.

chevron has committed

$7 million

over five years to HBCUs

As part of Chevron’s racial equity strategy, the company committed $7 million over five years to seven participating HBCUs. Funding for each school fuels scholarships, mentorship programs and internship opportunities.

“We’re a medium-sized school and have a lot of people to compete against for jobs,” Washington said. “This partnership provides an elevated level of visibility with Chevron. They recognize us as great talent—and when they specifically recruit from my school, it means a lot.”

“Partnerships like these helped me bridge the gap with meaningful experience and insight before graduating.”

jordan washington
former chevron strategy and technology intern

what’s ahead

In May 2024, Washington will cross the graduation stage with his diploma in hand. Then, he’s headed back to Houston, Texas, to begin his dream job as an environmental specialist with Chevron’s Environmental Management Company.

“Having an early opportunity to land a great job like this is incredible," he said. "I’m excited to start my career at Chevron.”

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