Virginia Booth Womack | Director

Contact Information

Virginia (Lynn) Booth Womack is from Indianapolis, Indiana. The first in a family of five to attend college, Virginia received a four-year scholarship to Purdue University from Father Boniface Hardin, President of what was then known as Martin Center College in Indianapolis, Indiana. Martin Center College is now known as Martin University. She is a Purdue University graduate with a B.S. Degree in Industrial Engineering and a B.A. Degree in Psychology. While at Purdue, Virginia was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and actively involved with Purdue's Minority Engineering Program (MEP). She was mentored by Purdue University President Emeritus, Dr. Arthur Hansen and challenged to run for National Chair of NSBE with a commitment from President Emeritus Hansen and Purdue University to help support the foundation of the national body.

After being elected, Purdue University provided an office for the first National Headquarters. Virginia was invited to speak at the National Advisory Council for the Minorities in Engineering consortium in Washington D.C. In attendance were Fortune 500 CEOs and University Presidents from top academic institutions that gathered together to determine how to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the fields of engineering and science. Her open, candid, and personal discussion of the needs of African American students pursuing engineering and science, and the personal responsibility such students embraced by forming NSBE, launched national support for NSBE from both corporate and university leaders. As the first female National Chair and the first to serve two consecutive terms of office, over 50 universities received their official 'charter chapter' status during her two terms of office.

While still a student, Virginia worked under Marion Williamson-Blalock and assisted in developing many of the activities that are still vital elements of MEP at Purdue University. She served as Assistant to the Director of MEP during the inception of the MEP Freshman Orientation Seminar (Engineering 180) and the formation of other minority organizations now well established at Purdue.

Virginia has worked for Proctor & Gamble, Eli Lilly Corporation, RCA, General Dynamics, and served as School Administrator for Bibleway Christian Academy (Toledo, Ohio) serving grades Preschool through 12. Before coming to Purdue, she worked at DaimlerChrysler Corporation where she spent 10 years and served as Lean Manufacturing Manager for the Powertrain Division. She was responsible for 100% implementation of training and integration of lean manufacturing principles. 

As the Director of MEP, Virginia has worked to continue the legacy established at Purdue through the tireless efforts of Ms. Blalock and others in the effort to increase the number of engineering graduates from Purdue University among those who traditionally have been underrepresented in the fields of engineering and science. Virginia recently served as Interim Executive Director for NSBE. The Dean of the College of Engineering allowed Virginia to be on loan to NSBE as their Interim Executive Director while they conducted a search, secured, and transitioned a new Executive Director. During this period, Virginia successfully managed a 14-million-dollar operation with approximately 30 employees through a very difficult transition. She oversaw and maintained organizational viability, increased corporate sponsorship, program outreach, and professional development.

In addition to leading MEP and transforming the lives of the next generation of engineers that pass through MEP, Virginia is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University with a focus on inclusive leadership across academia, corporations, and civic engagement. She plans to use her research to inform national efforts in broadening the participation of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Renee Gibert | Lead Program Manager

Contact Information
Office: Lambertus Hall, Room 2234
Phone: (765) 494-3978


Renee Gibert is an accomplished educator with an engineering background who thrives on building foundational knowledge for students to achieve excellence in mathematics. She has manufacturing experience with Pilkington Glass and Square D. She earned National Board Teacher Certification in Early Adolescent Mathematics. Only 3% of the nation's teachers have attained this prestigious certification. Renee served as a mentor to teachers seeking National Board Certification for the Indiana Department of Education. Renee has taught middle grades mathematics, Dual Credit Finite, Advanced Placement Statistics, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and Undergraduate Statistics in South Carolina, New York, and Indiana.

Her strength is analyzing data and using the results to modify instruction to meet the needs of special education and at-risk students. She is a former MATHCOUNTS coach and successfully led alternative education students to regional competitions in Upstate South Carolina. 

Moreover, Renee has utilized her skill set to develop engaging mathematics curriculum activities for grades 5-12. She has extensive knowledge of Common Core State Standards, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards, and Literacy. Renee is the founder of Get Lit Mathematics which infuses current events and culturally sustaining pedagogy to teach math concepts.  

The School District of Oconee County recognized Renee for excellence in teaching as the Code Academy Teacher of the Year in 2013. While a teacher in South Carolina, Renee facilitated district-level workshops on literacy and comprehension in mathematics, historical connections to mathematics, and effective middle grades mathematics instruction and Algebra 1 best practices.

Additionally, she served as lead teacher and mathematics curriculum coordinator for the Tri County Technical College's Upward Bound program. Upward Bound is a Federal TRIO program that serves high school students from low-income families whose parents don't have a bachelor's degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to boost the number of students who finish high school, matriculate, and graduate from colleges and universities.

Renee has a passion for advocacy and outreach. She is a Girl Scout Troop Leader for troop #4489, where girls learn to lead with courage, confidence, and character! Renee is a member of the advisory board for African American Leaders of Tomorrow, AALOT, which does outreach for underrepresented minority high school students in Tippecanoe County.

Renee is thrilled to contribute her vast knowledge and expertise to the Minority Engineering Program. She is excited to continue the program's outstanding outreach, retention, recruitment, and graduation rates. 

Renee holds a B.S. Industrial Engineering and a M.A.T. in Middle Grades Mathematics Education from Clemson University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue. 


Jessica L. Perkins, Ph.D. | Senior Recruitment and Retention Analyst

Contact Information
Office: Lambertus Hall, Room 2240
Phone: (765) 496-9408


Jessica L. Perkins, Ph.D., is a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, where she received her Bachelor's of Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering. She later went on to receive her Master's and Doctoral Degree's from the same in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus on Production and Manufacturing Systems, respectively. During her studies, she was a member of NSBE, Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society, and The Community of Graduate Scholars, and received the distinct honor of being named UNCF Scholar, NACME Scholar, and a Title III HCBI Fellow. Jessica has collaborated on several research initiatives with the NC A&T Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials, Wake Forrest School of Regenerative Medicine, the University of Pittsburgh School of Regenerative Medicine, and The Waterman Lab.

Along with her advisor, Dr. Salil Desai, Jessica co-authored several articles to include: "Direct writing of bio-functional coatings for cardiovascular applications" and "Direct writing of polymeric coatings on magnesium alloy for tracheal stent applications" for the NIH National Library of Medicine. Her research was centered around understanding the most feasible, low-cost, biocompatible alternative for manufacturing and coating metallic biomaterials for surgical use. She defended her dissertation titled "Biofunctional Coatings Using Direct-Write Fabrication Technique for Surgical Implant Devices" in the spring of 2012. At that time, Jessica dedicated her research accomplishments to her grandmother, Ms. Ada Via Winbush, who lost her battle with lung cancer just months prior to completion of her studies. 

Jessica later went on to work in the industry, joining the team at Honda Aircraft Company as an Industrial Engineer in 2014, and later Bridgestone Aircraft Tire (USA), Inc. in 2019, where she served in multiple capacities, including Technical Service Engineer and Original Equipment (OE) Technical Specialist. She was also a member and officer of the Aircraft Tire and Rim Association and SAE International A5 and A5c, where she participated in developing and maintaining technical consensus standards in the field of aviation, focusing on the landing gear down. She has been considered an expert in the aircraft tire industry, has been one of only a few women in the aircraft tire engineering, and the only known African-American female in the field. Jessica has excelled in each of these roles and brings an infinite amount of data analysis, research, and industry experiences to share with the students of MEP and the Purdue cohort!

Jessica proudly demonstrates her passion for outreach by pouring into and uplifting the next generation of engineers through the sharing of her time, talents, and knowledge!

Jessica is the proud mother of one daughter, Miss Corynn Perkins!

DéJah Hall | Pre-College and Undergraduate Program Administrator

Contact Information
Office: Lambertus Hall, Room 2241
Phone: (765) 494-6700


DéJah Hall is from Detroit, Michigan. She is a motivated, dynamic, and passionate professional with a strong background in mathematics. With a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a minor in Communication Studies from Michigan Technological University, and master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University, DéJah brings a diverse skill set to Purdue University's Minority Engineering Program.

As a middle and high school teacher, DéJah cultivated positive learning environments that led to improved student behavior, increased engagement, boosted confidence, and enhanced academic performance. DéJah prides herself on building meaningful relationships with students and colleagues. She is an enthusiastic and versatile professional, committed to making a difference in the lives of others.

DéJah passionately believes in equity and the potential for all students to learn. Her goal is to unlock the full potential of students by providing equitable, diverse, and inclusive opportunities that foster personal growth, positively contributing to the community. DéJah is deeply committed to community service. Her dedication to making a positive impact in the lives of others is both inspiring and unwavering.

In her spare time, DéJah loves to travel and coordinate extraordinary events. 


Terri Donald | Operations Administrator

Contact Information
Office: Lambertus Hall, Room 2237
Phone: (765) 494-9118


A dedicated professional with a wealth of experience under her belt, Terri Donald has a passion for empowering individuals to reach their full potential. With a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Management, Terri has honed her skills over a 25-year career that spans various administrative roles, demonstrating competence, knowledge, and a positive attitude at every turn.

Terri has accumulated 16-plus years as a Purdue Boilermaker. She started as an administrative assistant for the College of Science Diversity and Multicultural Science Program Directors, was promoted to be the administrative support for Purdue's first inaugural Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, and later transitioned to work for the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education for the College of Liberal Arts. In 2019, Terri broadened her career agenda by accepting the Senior Administrative Assistant position to the Veterinary Hospital's Director and the Hospital Administrator. 

Her professional journey showcases her competence, knowledge, and commitment to supporting diversity, inclusion and educational excellence. Her positive attitude, integrity, and respect for others have made her a trusted member of every team she has worked with. She possesses emotional intelligence, which allows her to navigate challenges calmly and effectively. 

Outside of her professional career, Terri enjoys a variety of hobbies, including listening to music, watching old sitcoms, being entertained by her dogs (Yula and Boggie), crocheting, knitting, and reading books on her Kindle.
Tamara L. Markey | Director of National Replication Algebra by Seventh Grade

Contact Information
Office: Lambertus Hall, Room 2236
Phone: (765) 496-7461


Tamara Markey is an innovative, passionate, and dynamic educator. She draws from and applies to her work in education, nearly a decade of real-world experience as an Engineer with Amoco Oil and BP Pipelines. Mrs. Markey is a Woodrow Wilson STEM Teaching Fellow and a certified Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Instructor. She has taught Pre-engineering at McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology and served as a STEM/PLTW District Coach in the Lawrence Township Metropolitan School District. Tamara is presently working with the Purdue Minority Engineering Program, championing the elementary level math initiative, Algebra by 7th Grade, to address performance gaps in mathematics for underrepresented students and to increase minority interest and program eligibility in STEM majors.

Tamara is the 2019 Indiana Teacher of the Year, a 2019-2020 Indiana University Armstrong Teacher Educator, a 2018 Lawrence Township Design Excellence Co-Award Winner, and in 2017 received the Engineering Technology Educators of Indiana Program Excellence Award.

She holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and an M.S. in Engineering Technology Education, both from Purdue University.

She has served as an Advisor Lead in her school to support teachers in the areas of guidance and counseling while also identifying and assisting students with their educational pathways, socio-emotional wellness, and life experiences. She founded the MCIT Girls in Technology program, aimed to increase exposure and interest of middle school girls in Engineering and other technology-driven fields. She has served as a member of the Indiana STEM Cadre, addressing the state's STEM certification process and metrics, in addition to serving on the Lawrence Township STEM Coalition Task Force.

Tamara is a devoted wife of thirty years and a proud mother of three children and one Golden Doodle.

Harika Asuri | Graduate Assistant 
M.S. Student School of Aviation and Transportation Technology

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Harika Asuri, an Indian national, is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Aviation and Aerospace Management at Purdue University's School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. Her academic journey began at Hindustan University in Chennai, India, where she earned her Bachelor of Technology in Aerospace Engineering in 2019, demonstrating her dedication to the field from the outset. 

Her professional experience includes a significant tenure at Boeing, where she undertook roles as a Technical Writer, QC specialist, and Mentor. Her contributions extended beyond her role as an author, she played a pivotal role in streamlining automation processes, resulting in an annual timesaving of 15,000 hours. Furthermore, she gained valuable insights into the industry through internships at Tata Advanced Systems Limited as a Quality Intern and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as a Structural Assembly Intern.

Beyond her academic and professional pursuits, Harika actively participated in various student organizations during her undergraduate studies. Notably, she took on a leadership role in managing the Nebula Astro Club, promoting STEM education and community engagement among astronomy enthusiasts. At the club she along with her peers got actively involved in astronomy teaching programs and organized visits to the Vainu Bappu Observatory and the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, both operated by the Indiana Institute of Astrophysics. She also orchestrated multiple captivating stargazing events and eclipse watch gathering, featuring distinguished astronomers.

Harika's dedication to Diversity and Inclusion was evident during her tenure at Boeing India, where she was nominated as the DEI&B ambassador for her team. She passionately advocated for diversity initiatives and an inclusive workplace. Furthermore, she actively participated in Women in Aviation and the Society of Women Engineers, contributing to their efforts to support and advance women in aviation and engineering. 

Harika's involvement with the Minority Engineering Program at Purdue commenced when she served as a Counselor for a summer program in 2023. Her interactions with young students ignited her passion for interactive and enjoyable Math and Science teaching methods. She firmly believes that introducing STEM concepts early lays a strong foundation. Harika is committed to enhancing the primary objective of MEP at Purdue - assisting students in pursuing their education and inspiring the next generation. 

Nadia M. Numa | Graduate Assistant 
Ph.D. Student School of Aeronautics and Astronautics

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Nadia M. Numa, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, received her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a concentration in Propulsion and a minor in International Relations in December 2015. During her undergraduate studies, Nadia participated in various organizations that afforded her the opportunity to serve the surrounding communities through programs and outreach. As the Vice-President of Society of Women Engineers, a Senator/Parliamentarian in National Society of Black Engineers, and a McNair Scholar, Nadia led and participated in education programs and outreach events to encourage women and minority students to consider a career in STEM.

In May 2019, Nadia received a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University with a focus on experimental plasma-assisted combustion. Simultaneously, Nadia became an active member of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA), AAE Graduate Women in Aerospace, AAE Graduate Women Gatherings (GWG), and Women in Aerospace (WiA), where she held leadership positions and aided in planning events such as the Amelia Earhart Aerospace Summit. Nadia has also volunteered at Purdue Space Day (PSD), encouraging STEM education among students in grades 3-8. 

Nadia is currently a Ph.D. student in Astrodynamics and Space Applications at the School of Aeronautics and Aeronautics Engineering and is a member of Kathleen Howell's Multibody Dynamics Research Group. Her current research focuses on trajectory design and optimization for cislunar missions requiring the use of propellant depots. 

Nadia's professional experience includes internships at both General Electric and Boeing Company. Following her undergraduate studies, Nadia worked as a Propulsion Product Development engineer with a focus on engine nacelle design and engine-airplane integration at Boeing. She also worked as a mission architecture associate engineer at SpaceX in 2018 - a role here she worked with the Mission Assurance Team to ensure both flight and mission reliability for five commercial space missions.

Nadia hopes to continue to serve the community through teaching programs and outreach events to further MEP's vision and mission. She hopes to engage and encourage minority students to pursue their passions while leveraging the skills obtained from their STEM education.

Emmanuel Oyakojo | Graduate Assistant 
Ph.D. Student School of Civil Engineering

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Emmanuel Oladipupo Oyakojo was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering (2011) from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He also holds a diploma degree (2005) in civil engineering from the Yaba College of Technology in Nigeria. 

Before leaving Nigeria for his graduate studies, at Purdue University in the United States of America, Emmanuel worked for several years as a Senior Project Engineer with Morgan Omonitan and Abe. He served as a coach, mentor, and team lead on several residential, commercial, and industrial projects across Nigeria. He became a certified engineer in Nigeria with the Council of the Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria (COREN); R54674 in 2019.  

Emmanuel is currently a Graduate student in Structural Engineering at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University. His current research is on Numerical Investigations on Bonded Anchors with Post-Installed Supplementary Reinforcement under Tension Loading. 

With his wealth of exposure and experience in his native country, Emmanuel hopes to be a team player to enhance the goals and objectives of the Minority Engineering Program at Purdue University.

Tasha Zephirin | Graduate Assistant (NAMEPA)
Ph.D. Candidate School of Engineering Education

Contact Information

Tasha Zephirin, is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is the executive assistant for the National Association of Multicultural Program Advocates (NAMEPA) Inc., co-coordinator of the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC) research group, and has also served as the Graduate Student Representative on the Purdue Engineering Advisory Council.

Tasha has lived in both the U.S. and Caribbean, growing up primarily in Barbados. She developed an interest in engineering education research while pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech. This interest was developed through research and teaching experiences in their engineering education department and leadership roles in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at the Chapter, Regional, and National levels. While at Purdue she has participated in the National Science Foundation sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship in Magnetic and Nanostructured Materials (IGERT-MNM) program − a collaborative effort with Cornell University and Norfolk State University.

Her research interests include exploring the role of noncurricular engineering education initiatives in the engineering experience − especially within and across cultural boundaries. Her current research focuses in initiatives designed to address diversity, inclusion, and equity goals. Through this research, she aims to inform the development and evaluation of engineering education initiatives in a variety of contexts.

She has previously worked with the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) as a Head Counselor and Co-Summer Program Coordinator for MEP programs (Summer 2013) and as a Graduate Assistant in 2014. As a Graduate Assistant, she held both leading and supporting roles in the design and implementation of services for pre-collegiate and collegiate students as well as facilitating additional advisory support for Presidents of student organizations that have a focus within underrepresented student populations (AISES, MAES, NSBE, SHPE). She has also helped further engineering education research efforts within MEP programming and co-authored conference proceedings with MEP staff. 

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