Thursday, December 15
story by Andrea Leland
photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography
published Dec. 14, 2022
When Shavauntay Dukes’ high school physics teacher told him he could be an engineer, it planted a seed.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, the first-generation senior never dreamed he would go to college. Now, Dukes will graduate this month with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Colorado State University.
It was a winding and challenging path.
Dukes did not start in engineering. After graduating high school, a college degree did not seem financially attainable, so he enlisted in the military. “Where I grew up, it was different,” he said. “I wasn’t really exposed to college.”
While stationed at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Dukes began exploring his interest in technology, and it brought him back to the idea of engineering. “I knew I had potential to make a bigger impact,” Dukes said.
He picked CSU after researching engineering programs in the region. “I liked the culture here,” he said. “I knew electrical engineering was the right choice for me.”
Dukes persisted through a challenging major amid a global pandemic, while adjusting to the demands of becoming a first-time parent. He feels empowered and ready for the next chapter.
Dukes currently serves in a part-time engineering role with the City of Fort Collins. He plans to stay in Colorado to enjoy snowboarding, cooking and spending time with his daughter and girlfriend, who is in law school. “I’ve grown to like Colorado,” he said.
Q. What was the most rewarding part of your CSU experience?
The opportunity to become a mentor through the Black/African American Cultural Center. Throughout my time in the military and at CSU, I’ve learned how meaningful it is to have mentors and role models who are from a similar culture, especially in an environment where you may feel or appear different from most people around you.
Q. What obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome to reach graduation?
In addition to the challenges of pursuing a degree program with hard classes during a pandemic, our first child was born in 2020. I don’t view becoming a father as an obstacle, but it created a new normal and required many adjustments.
Q. What is your advice to incoming electrical and computer engineering students at CSU?
It can get difficult early on, and you may feel like you are in over your head. If you’re not doing a perfect job, college has a way of making you feel like you chose the wrong field or that you may not succeed. It can seem like others are picking things up more quickly than you are, but that’s far from the truth. It is just as hard for the people around you, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Be fair to yourself. Don’t talk yourself out of your dreams because all things are possible. We persevere as engineers.
The Class of 2022 represents the very best of Colorado State University, showing courage in the face of adversity in the pursuit of their degrees. Read more stories of some of the outstanding students who are graduating this fall. read more
© 2022 Colorado State University
Outstanding Grad: Shavauntay Dukes, Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering – Colorado State University
Thursday, December 15