Dominican student makes history at US college

Verena Lake

Dominican student, Verena Lake, has made history at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus for being the first female black student to enroll in the Surveying Engineering Program. Lake’s achievement was featured on Eyewitness News, serving Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania and newspaper PAhomepage as part of Black History Month in the United States.

According to the newspaper article,  her path to surveying engineering was not typical. It stated that she earned three associate degrees: one in geography, one in physics, and another in biology in Dominica but questioned what she would do with them.

“Afterward I researched what can I do with the degrees that I have already and that’s how I found out about surveying engineering because it’s very physics and geography intensive,” Lake told the newspaper and Eyewitness News.

She settled on attending Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus but had to deal with some challenges.

“I had to delay my acceptance because I had issues getting my visa so that was a battle and then I finally came as a sponsored student,” she stated.

Another problem she had to deal with was tuition, according to the newspaper.

“My home country was paying for my tuition and then there was a struggle with that because unfortunately the payments were not always made on time and so that caused…let’s just say I was at the bursar’s office a lot,” she explained.

Despite the challenges, Lake did not give up hope and according to PAhomepage, her professors allowed her to sit in on classes.

The young student said she was in disbelief when she was told that she was the first black female student to enroll in the program.

“Wow, I remember the first time it was said to me. It was actually the Director of Student Affairs Wanda Ochei who told me and I was in disbelief,” she was quoted as saying.

She will be graduating in May but said she has mixed feelings.

“A lot of different mix of emotions I was happy of course I felt honored to be the first and then the other side of that was wish I could share like it’s nice to be the first but I wish there was a second or a third black woman that I could identify,” she told PAhomepage.

She had some words of advice for other students.

“Just because you’ll be the first doesn’t mean it can’t be done so you’re probably the one who has to be the first to inspire others to let them know that yes they can do it,” she remarked.

Verena Lake is a former student of the Convent High School and the Dominica State College.

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  1. If we knew better
    February 26, 2024

    STEM. this is commendable but yet crazy. Congrats to her for being the first female black student to enroll in the program. I say its crazy as it shows that black women (maybe just in America) are really not interested in certian fields. Then cry about the “gender wage gap”. Thanks Ms. Lake for breaking that “barrier”.

  2. February 24, 2024

    often times misunderstandings appear between Dominica, a small Caribbean island and Dominican Republic a much larger island .Can the distinction be clearly made between these two islands please? I would be happy because I’ve also known persons who got mixed up with Bahamas and Barbados and I live in Barbados

  3. Ivon
    February 24, 2024

    Dominica folks are in so many careers here in the US from Scientist , Doctors, lawyers, teachers, Engineering and such

  4. February 23, 2024

    Congratulation keep up the good work. The sky is the limit. You have the world ahead of you good luck.

  5. Black Beauty
    February 23, 2024

    Daughter of the vieille case soil. Teacher Doreen grand daughter. congrats vera is watching

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