Sisters, friends, and now, co-workers. It seems fitting that Victoria and Elizabeth Bohannon-Pea would graduate from Colorado State University together. They’ve done homework together, served in the same student organization together, and now, they’re going to work together. They’ve accepted full-time positions at Arrow Electronics, where they both completed multiple summer internships.
The elder Victoria has finished her electrical engineering degree from the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering in six years. The younger Elizabeth has completed her degree from the College of Business in four. Graduating together wasn’t the plan – that’s just how it worked out – and their parents, along with a long list of aunts, uncles, cousins and godparents attending commencement, couldn’t be happier.
“Oh, they’re bustin’ at the seams,” Victoria said of their parents. The sisters, natives of Aurora and graduates of Rangeview High School, are first-generation college students.
While plowing through her challenging major, Victoria served in leadership roles in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and as a mentor to younger students in Engineering Academic Village. Looking around in her classes and seeing few faces like hers – she was the lone Black female in her 13-member Formula SAE senior design team, for example – she wanted to help promote diversity, too.
During Victoria’s second year, she helped relaunch a dormant National Society of Black Engineers chapter at CSU, serving in various leadership roles, including as president for the past two years. The organization now has about 15 active members, and several of its executive team members also sit on the NSBE regional board.
NSBE’s mission statement – developing “culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community” – spoke to Victoria immediately. “I thought, this is something I should be a part of – to try to do good, and lead by example,” she said.
When Elizabeth arrived at CSU two years after Victoria, she also became involved with the NSBE chapter and she now serves as its vice president. Elizabeth chose to pursue a technology-centered business degree, picking a double concentration in computer information systems and supply chain management. This STEM focus qualified her to engage in NSBE activities. Both sisters credit their fellow NSBE members, and especially their faculty advisor Tom Siller, for helping get the organization into full swing, and setting it up for future success.
Beyond her service in NSBE, Elizabeth has taken active roles in her sorority, Alpha Delta Chi, and has been a Resources for Disabled Students intern for three years. She started out at RDS as a student note-taker, and later served as an RDS van driver and as a testing proctor, among other roles.
Working with RDS “has made me humble,” Elizabeth said. “I have gotten to see that everyone is unique, and everyone’s success is different.”
Elizabeth also describes being a Key Academic Community member as “one of the greatest things” about her time at CSU – allowing her to find study partners and friends in her major, and helping her feel connected to campus.
After graduation, the Bohannon-Pea sisters will remain together, on slightly different paths: Victoria will be an applications engineer in Arrow’s Engineering Solutions Center. Elizabeth will join the company’s Quality Assurance team testing software.