“Deaf Black Woman Engineer”: PVAMU grad shares obstacles, road to success

Houston native Stephine Mathis is poised for a future of helping others by starting her own hearing aid brand. As a first-generation college student who’s also hearing impaired, Mathis had plenty to overcome while pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Prairie View A&M University. But with hard work, faith, and a good friend at her side, she not only managed but thrived.

“4 words…DEAF BLACK WOMAN ENGINEER,” she posted to Twitter the day before PVAMU’s virtual celebration for spring 2020 graduates.

“Honestly, I’m amazed at myself for making it this far,” she said. “Nobody but God did this for me. I have to give Him all the credit because I kept praying to find a way that could keep me on track. I wanted to become an engineer, no matter what it took. He answered my prayers and sent a classmate that was in almost all of my hard classes. She helped me stay up-to-date with classwork and homework. She always made sure to share any notes that I hadn’t received. She was really an angel from God that helped me through my last two years of college.”

Her talent on the track earned her a scholarship for her freshman year, but it was far from the only extracurricular activity she had during her time at PVAMU. As a member of the American National Society of Mechanical Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Anointed 2 Worship (Instrument of Praise) dance team, Mathis’s social schedule was packed.

Despite being busy, she always made academics her top priority, making the dean’s list during all four years of her time at PVAMU. Still, it wasn’t always an easy balance to maintain.

“I received a few accommodations from Disability Services that were helpful for me in classes. But, outside of classes, I had to spend a lot of time just teaching myself the materials that were taught. It was hard, but I sacrificed free time just to keep up,” she explained.

The struggles didn’t dull her enthusiasm for engineering, allowing her to pursue her true career passion.

“I enjoy creating things from scratch and putting things together,” she said. “The engineering department provided many seminars and career fairs to help students in their career fields.”

She advises current and incoming students not to let obstacles keep them from their dreams.

”Don’t ever give up just because it seems hard. Use as many resources as you can for help,” she said.

After such an impressive career at PVAMU, there’s no doubt that Mathis’s future will reveal plenty of exciting opportunities that inspire others to overcome hardships in pursuit of greatness.

“It allowed me to show my family that anybody can do whatever they put their minds to,” she said.

By Marley Crusch, Prairie View A&M University