At SAS, we take a passionate stance in shaping the future of tech leaders.

In 2023, we introduced the SAS HBCU+ Fellows Program, inviting faculty from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Primarily Black Institutions (PBIs) to gain hands-on experience with SAS and pass on this knowledge to their students.

This opportunity enhanced data analytics teaching for faculty in business, agriculture, computer science, computer information systems and more. It has also resulted in adopting SAS tools in several courses, a proposal for collaborative research and lasting partnerships.

Related: SAS HBCU Fellows reflect on program benefits and opportunities

Introducing the 2024 cohort

Building on this success, the 2024 cohort includes faculty from Virginia State University (VSU), Dillard University, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T) across diverse disciplines. The 2024 HBCU+ Fellows are:

  • Harmandeep Sharma, PhD, North Carolina A&T State University
  • Mahmud Mansaray, PhD, Adjunct Faculty in the Schools of Business at North Carolina Central University
  • Ephrem Eyob, PhD, Professor in the College of Business at Virginia State University
  • Dennis Sigur Jr., Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Dillard University
From left to right: Harmandeep Sharma, Mahmud Mansaray, Ephrem Eyob, Dennis Sigur Jr.

Fueled by a passion for finding data driven solutions to community issues, the 2024 cohort aims to enhance its courses by integrating data analytics skills through hands-on experience and real-world data.

As part of the HBCU+ Fellows Program, they will receive tailored support for teaching and learning data analytics, collaborating with peers, technical experts and curriculum consultants to elevate their instructional methods.

“I am excited about the SAS HBCU+ Fellows Program because it represents an invaluable opportunity for me to enhance my teaching skills further, broaden my knowledge base through conducting research and learning new techniques, and contribute to the development of my students, as well as my department, college or institution,” shared Ephrem Eyob, emphasizing the program’s multifaceted impact.

Harmandeep Sharma envisions transformative benefits for NCA&T’s educational programs, stating, “My participation in the [HBCU+ Fellows] program is poised to bring transformative benefits to our educational programs at NCA&T, allowing us to stay at the forefront of data analytics in Agriculture 4.0 (integrating data and AI into farming practices), and preparing our students for a future that hinges on data-driven decision-making and innovation in agriculture.”

Looking forward to the lasting impact

The fellows share the enthusiasm to learn new skills and use the power of data analytic tools to tell stories and make informed decisions to improve the lives of those most in need. Dedicated to professional development, the fellows are driven to become better mentors for their students and colleagues.

“The HBCU+ Fellows Program offers a special opportunity for professional advancement, encouraging good change in my teaching, benefiting my students, and enhancing my department and institution,” shared Dennis Sigur Jr. “This is why I am so passionate about it.”

Mahmud Mansaray’s motivation is “fueled by the interests of current students who aspire to use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.” He recognizes the program’s alignment with student interests and the evolving world of technology.

We look forward to the impact of the second cohort supporting students of color to engage with data analytics, shaping their career trajectories and influencing positive change within their communities.

Learn more about the HBCU+ Fellows


About Author

Lilia Rodriguez

Global Academic Program Manager

Lilia Rodriguez, Ph.D. is an Academic Program Manager in the Academic Innovation and Strategy team at SAS where she helps advance analytics education by partnering with higher education institutions and by designing programs to responsibly support minority serving institutions. Before joining SAS, Rodriguez worked on the design, execution, and coordination of equity-oriented educational programs and tools across the P-20 pipeline, including local and global university-community partnerships. Rodriguez earned a Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her interdisciplinary training in the learning sciences, cultural studies, and anthropology influence her interest in human ingenuity and innovation for social improvement.

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