A Fayetteville State University student is one of 25 students from historically Black colleges and universities named as one of AT&T’s Dream in Black Rising Future Markers Class.
FSU junior Iyana Beachem, 18, is one of the nationwide recipients.
“Having the AT&T honor proves that anyone from my school and anyone from my background or who looks like me can do the same thing,” she said. “By receiving this award, I want to take it back to my campus to teach other students that there are similar or better opportunities for them, too, within their own gifts and paths.”
The award honors HBCU students “who are making a positive impact in their communities and on their campuses,” and is “geared towards promoting young Black talent and ensuring they have access to the network and resources they need,” according to a news release.
Beachem plans to be a pediatric medical scientist and is majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in race and public health, while minoring in chemistry and data science.
Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, she is part of a military family who relocated to Fayetteville several years ago and graduated from Cumberland International Early College High School in May.
FSU, Beachem said, “is home.”
“I wanted to attend an HBCU and only applied to HBCUs,” Beachem said. “I tried other places and campuses but recognized they didn’t match the atmosphere of FSU. FSU has a family atmosphere.”
Beachem said she gravitated toward wanting to become a pediatric medical scientist after working as a research assistant for the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network in South Carolina in the spring of 2021.
Beachem said the lawyers and doctors who she researched and collaborated with advocated on behalf of those with disparities, which is what inspired her.
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She was part of a project that advocated for Black maternal mortality rates through the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021.
An internship with the First Focus on Children nonprofit led her to work with budget policy coalitions that work on behalf of children.
“I recognized that a lot of children need advocates when it comes to medicine,” Beachem said.
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Beachem said she learned that Black children with autism or behavioral disorders are often “written off as trouble makers, but really need someone with more understanding,” to address their needs.
“My goal is to expose and resolve the present health disparities that affect (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities through research, public education and advocacy,” she said.
Beachem is currently studying for the medical college admission test and plans to go to medical school after graduating from FSU.
She hopes to stay in North Carolina to work with children in rural areas, but is also open to opportunities that would allow her to travel and teach.
“I think attending a HBCU has helped a lot in terms of presentation and confidence, but I’m very well aware that when I step off campus I will be a minority in almost in space, considering I’ll be a Black woman in STEM,” Beachem said. “At the same time, I don’t feel pressure and have had support from a community and understand and know my purpose. I know why I’m doing this and have to believe that with my work ethic, I’m on the path that I’m on.”
Beachem said some of her mentors and influences have included Michael Rich, Robin Johnson, Dr. Sherree Davis, Dr. Teresa Thompson-Pinckney, Dr. Monica Leach, Malcolm X and John Lewis.
“These are a mix of major influences on my life that have either started my journey in activism or currently mentor me,” she said.
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Outside of the classroom, Beachem stays engaged in activism work and has previously rallied for affirmative action in front of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C.
She also recently helped organize FSU’s Trot to the Polls in November and is active in civic engagement groups on campus like Broncos in Action, the Voter Registration Education and Mobilization group and FSU’s NAACP chapter.
As an AT&T Dream in Black Rising Future Marker, Beachem will receive $5,000 and a mobile phone along with professional workshop opportunities and mentoring sessions with AT&T executives in an effort to “help bridge the digital divide,” according to AT&T.
“We are excited about the continued potential of this initiative and look forward to supporting this next generation of leaders, providing them with the resources and connections they need to succeed,” said Sabina Ahmed, assistant vice president for media and sponsorship at AT&T.
Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528.