It is a privilege to be here at BEYA once again – to celebrate and to congratulate this year’s outstanding winners for their tremendous accomplishments.
The individuals we recognize tonight are dedicated to advancing science and technology.
They are passionate about inspiring the leaders of tomorrow to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Since the founding of this conference in 1986, BEYA has grown into the premier industry event of its kind.
This annual gathering brings together the brightest minds from the finest companies and institutions to forge relationships that will build a better tomorrow.
The 100,000 men and women of Lockheed Martin are proud to have supported BEYA for the past 32 years.
We share BEYA’s belief that every child is precious and every life is deserving of opportunity.
And like BEYA, Lockheed Martin encourages young people to see their own potential as they pursue their dreams.
This year’s conference theme is “Change Makers: World Impact.”
This phrase holds different meanings for each of us in this room.
For the awardees: your years of hard work, dedication and commitment to your craft have led you to this evening, when you’ll be honored for the impact you’ve made.
For the industry leaders and educators: you have renewed hope that the young people among us will be the change makers who will carry on a legacy of innovation and ensure the prosperity of the next generation.
And for the students and early-career professionals: tonight’s awardees can serve as a source of inspiration as you find your way toward making your impact.
I’d like to share a story of an individual who found the path to making his impact, thanks to BEYA.
Aaron Edmond knew from a young age that one day he would work in aerospace.
As a child, he loved to watch documentaries about World War II fighter pilots.
And he would spend countless hours exploring the sky through the telescope his parents gave him.
Years later, as a college student, Aaron began attending this conference.
It was here at BEYA that he secured an internship with Lockheed Martin.
Although Aaron enjoyed the work he performed and the opportunities he had as an intern, he was hesitant to accept our offer to join us full time at our Middle River facility in Maryland.
You see, Aaron grew up just outside of Baltimore, not far from the location of this job opportunity.
As a new graduate, he was ready for a new adventure in a new place.
Fortunately, through visits to BEYA, and on-campus career fairs, Aaron had built a strong relationship with one of our recruiters.
When he saw this same recruiter before his spring graduation, she put him in contact with a manager at our Orlando location.
Sunny Florida seemed like a good place for a fresh start.
Aaron was thrilled that this role involved engineering work on the F-35 advanced fighter program.
These days, Aaron is enjoying making his impact on the F-35 training systems team.
Aaron’s story is just one of dozens that is shaped here at BEYA each year.
His example serves as an inspiration – and a call to action.
No other fields of discipline can affect change in our world as much as the STEM fields.
The awardees we recognize tonight and the students here who will be their successors can and will create and sustain technologies to change the world for the better.
As we celebrate this special occasion, let us reflect on the core mission of BEYA: to recognize the impact that the African-American community has on the STEM fields, and to continue to build the pipeline of talent to foster progress for years to come.
In closing, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this year’s conference and helped to make it such a success.
And congratulations, again, to all the winners.