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Meet Raven Cummings, incoming first-year student from Pembroke

Raven Cummings poses seated on ground outdoors beneath tree. Green shrubbery and grey concrete garden bench are in the background.

As a rising high school senior in 2022, Raven Cummings spent a weekend at NC State University that helped put her on the path she’s on today.

Cummings, who is from Pembroke, North Carolina, and is a member of the Lumbee tribe, attended the NC State Native Education Forum, a week-long event at NC State for Native American students to meet current students, explore Raleigh and get help with college applications and SAT prep.

“It heavily influenced me wanting to go to school here,” she said. “I met so many welcoming people, and I just felt like the environment was right for me.”

Raven Cummings poses leaning on tree. A white building with red doors can be seen in background.

One activity that stuck with her was the talking circle. Students asked each other questions and made space for deeper conversations and bonding.

“I took away some key things from that, like instead of saying ‘My name is Raven,’ I say ‘I am Raven Cummings,’” she said. “Like taking ownership of who I am. They helped me a lot with building confidence. I had never thought about it like that before.”

Cummings is looking forward to meeting new people and all the new opportunities ahead as she starts at NC State. She is interested in environmental engineering and in biological and agricultural engineering. She’s ready to learn about solving global problems, and she has a particular interest in sustainability and addressing issues like the world’s warming oceans and growing trash problem.

But she’s waiting until she gets through some of the introductory level engineering classes to decide on a major.

There are so many opportunities in these fields and so many ways you can use an engineering degree,” she said.

Cummings also wants to go abroad while working on her undergraduate degree. She is a recipient of the Goodnight Scholarship, which will help open up more leadership and travel opportunities for her. She currently has her eye on a service-learning experience trip to Puerto Rico.

The Goodnight Scholarship application process was stressful, but exciting. Cummings thought she did poorly during the interview and she was shocked when she got that call that she’d won the scholarship.

“I called everyone,” she said. “I was very excited.”

On campus, she will be living in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Village, which is available to students pursuing a wide range of STEM degrees. “I feel like it will be beneficial to be close to other people that I can form study groups with,” she said.

She’s nervous about a few things. She hasn’t taken an in-person math class in a few years, in part due to the pandemic, but also because she takes her online math classes through Robeson Community College.

But mostly, she’s excited. A few of her cousins are already at NC State and one of her close friends from Pembroke also wants to study engineering. She plans to get involved with some of the Native American groups on campus and wants to continue learning about her heritage. She will also look to join a Christian group to have space for her faith at school. She wants to try yoga. And she’s looking forward to all of the different food options available in Raleigh. “I’ll try anything,” she said. “I’m just so excited to try new things.”