Carrying the Torch: Jevon Torres

As told to Caitlin Dawson | May 6, 2024

Graduating computer science senior Jevon Torres on leading the National Society of Black Engineers President USC Chapter and carrying the torch

"Engineering gives you the toolkit to bring your dreams to reality. And I saw that directly with computer science." Photo/Sydney Cattouse

“Engineering gives you the toolkit to bring your dreams to reality. And I saw that directly with computer science.” Photo/Sydney Cattouse

This is an as-told-to essay based on a conversation with Jevon Torres, (B.S. Computer Science and Business Administration ’24), outgoing president of the award-winning USC chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

I grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. So, South Jersey, close to Philly. I really got into computer science in late middle school, when I had the chance to take a computer programming class.

I liked the problem-solving. I liked the challenge. If you have an idea of something that you want to create, 99% of the time, through computer science, you can make it happen.

I still feel that way.

Engineering gives you the toolkit to bring your dreams to reality. And I saw that directly with computer science.

I’m the kind of person who tries not to think too far ahead. I try to live in the moment.

"When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut."

“When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut.”

When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut.

But I ended up walking in footsteps closer to home.

My mom studied industrial and systems engineering and got her master’s in engineering and business. She’s an adjunct faculty at UPenn now. My dad started his degree in engineering and finished in economics.

So, I had a computer when I was very young. I would be sitting next to my dad’s office—he would be on his computer, and there I would be next door, sitting on mine.

Later on, I took an accounting course in high school and that sparked an interest in the business side of things. I wanted to be well versed in the engineering stuff, but also in how to run a business.

When I was looking at schools, I was I was trying to find somewhere where I could do both.

In senior year, my friends who had made their selection would say, “I toured such-and-such a place, and I just felt it.” I wasn’t feeling that at other universities.

But when I toured SC, I was like, “Actually, now I get why people are saying this.” I felt it.

I came to campus, and people were happy to be here. They were smiling and the culture seemed collaborative. I also appreciated that SC had programs that basically prepare you to be a tech entrepreneur.

When I was looking at colleges, it was obvious that there weren’t many Black faces in engineering, or even at college in general.

So, as someone in an underrepresented population, that support system, that sense of family away from home, that’s what I came looking for.

And that’s what I found in the USC National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter.

Actually, I grew up around NSBE. My mom was president of her chapter at school and led it to win chapter of the year. So, the leadership thing—it’s in the blood.

"With my dad Manuel, brother Devin (a freshman in computer science at USC) and mom Daria at Parent's Weekend this fall."

“With my dad Manuel, brother Devin (a freshman in computer science at USC) and mom Daria at Parent’s Weekend this fall.”

During my first two years, I served as secretary, vice president and treasurer. At that point, I started to see freshmen coming in. I’m thinking back to my freshman year, and how much I appreciated that community. I wanted to go and build the same thing.

So, in my second year, I ran for president, and ended up serving in the role for two years.

During the pandemic, when I first joined USC, we had our NSBE meetings on Zoom with maybe 15 or 20 people in a call. Now, in senior year, we have about 120 active members. I like to think that our amazing leadership team had a role to play in that reinvigoration.

Professional development specifically for the black engineering community is probably where there’s the biggest lack. So, as president, I’ve placed a strong emphasis on bringing in companies to speak to our students.

The companies are fighting for dates to try to meet with our students. So, that’s the other important thing: letting the students know, “you are desired.” Companies want to see you work for them; they want to see you succeed

During my term as president, we won Best Western Region Chapter for two years in a row, which is a spectacular honor.

At this point, NSBE is like my kid. It’s my pride and joy.

I would love to come back to it in 10 years as an alumnus and for it to feel like the blood of the organization is still there.

Touring UVA, my mom's alma mater, as a kid with my brother.

Touring UVA, my mom’s alma mater, as a kid with my brother.

After graduation, I’ll be working in New York as a software engineer at McKinsey.

I actually interned there and I found it very comparable to my major. I like the cross-functionality of consulting—working with people from different disciplines, from UX designers, to data engineers, and even the clients themselves. I enjoyed being in the room with everybody.

Another funny fact: After my mom completed her MBA, she also worked at McKinsey. So, that might be the trend here. Following in her footsteps, and at the same time, doing what I enjoy.

I will say, we are very similar people. Sometimes so similar that we’ll get on each other’s nerves because we think the same way.  But she’s always one of the first people to support me. I think it’s just an extra little smile on her face that I’m following a similar path in so many ways.

It’s funny—she went to UVA for her undergrad, and my dad for the longest time said, “She’s gonna get you to go to UVA.” But I’m here at SC and I loved it.

And now, you know, she loves that I love it.

Published on May 6th, 2024

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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