Houston Awards Gala Celebrates Women and Girls of Color in STEM

Black Girls Do Engineer (BGDE) is thrilled to announce their highly anticipated 2nd Annual Black Girls Do Engineer Day Awards Gala in Houston, TX.

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 5/29/2024, 3:15 p.m.
This prestigious event is a celebration of excellence, empowerment, and achievement for women of color in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, …

This prestigious event is a celebration of excellence, empowerment, and achievement for women of color in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The awards gala will honor and recognize amazing women and girls who have made remarkable contributions and accomplishments in the field. At the heart of the Gala lies the presentation of awards to extraordinary women and girls who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, innovation, and impact in across all STEM disciplines.

From groundbreaking research and innovation to transformative initiatives and giving back to their respective communities, these award recipients represent the best and brightest in their field; inspiring others with their dedication, resilience, and passion for STEM. More than an event, this gala is a gathering of like-minded individuals united by a shared commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.

What: 2nd Annual Black Girls Do Engineer Day Award Gala

When: Friday. June 21, 2024, From 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. CST

Where: The Parador, 2021 Binz St, Houston, Texas

Meet This Year’s Honorees

Sharon McDougle will be presented with the Honorarium Award 


Sharon Caples McDougle is regarded as a modern day ‘Hidden Figure.’ She was the first black Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE) Spacesuit Technician, responsible for processing the orange launch/entry suit assemblies worn by astronauts who flew aboard the space shuttle. Many know Mae Jemison was the first black woman to go to space, but until now it has not been widely known that a black woman, with her own list of firsts, suited her up. McDougle was her suit tech for her historic mission. 

McDougle was promoted to the position of crew chief making her the first woman and first black CEE crew chief. In this position she was responsible for leading a team of technicians to suit-up astronaut crews. During her time as crew chief, she had the honor of leading the first and only all-woman suit tech crew. She would go on to become the only woman and only black manager of the CEE department and led the team responsible for suiting up and strapping the astronauts into the space shuttle for training and launch, and recovering the crew upon landing. She held this position until the Space Shuttle Program ended, concluding an illustrious 22-year career with our nation’s space program.  

Carina Murrell will be presented with the 2024 Mentor of the Year Award


Carina Murrell is an accomplished product manager currently serving in a leadership role at Nordstrom. With over 8 years of dedicated experience in engineering and product management, Carina has established herself as a dynamic leader and innovator in the field. After earning her Master of Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Carina embarked on her professional journey, leveraging her technical expertise and passion for innovation to drive meaningful change in the retail landscape.

In addition to her professional achievements, Carina is deeply committed to giving back to her community and empowering the next generation of women in STEM. Since 2020, she has served as a mentor for the Black Girls Do Engineer (BGDE) program, where she shares her expertise, insights, and guidance with aspiring young women interested in pursuing careers in engineering and technology.

Bryan Hayes will be presented with the Ally of the Year Award

The BGDE Ally of the Year Award is a distinguished honor that recognizes individuals or organizations who have demonstrated exemplary commitment, advocacy, and support for Black girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). This award celebrates allies who have stood in solidarity with Black girls in their pursuit of excellence in STEM. Through this award, BGDE seeks to honor and amplify the voices of individuals or organizations who have served as advocates, supporters, and partners in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields. 

Kia Smith & Andre’a Streeter, will be presented with the Sisters Empowering & Enlightening iNdividuals (S.E.E.N) Figures Award


Kia Smith is a Regional Supplier Quality Manager for the Boeing Defense and Space Business Unit. Kia and her team are responsible for safety and delivery of components and materials from 157 suppliers in the Los Angeles area to Boeing for integration and execution of products such as Satellites, Space Vehicles and Military Aircrafts.

Prior to that, Kia was a Senior Project Engineer and IPT Lead at The Boeing Company in El Segundo, CA for satellite and space vehicle programs. She was responsible for production and integration of products such as satellites, space vehicles and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Minor in Mathematics from HBCU Southern University, A&M College where she was a NASA Scholar and a member of the Honors College.

She is also a graduate of Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, where she received a Master of Business Administration.


Andre’a Streeter, a native of Cleveland, OH, studied Mechanical Engineering at HBCU Tennessee State University. Upon completing her undergraduate studies, she relocated to Houston, TX where she currently resides. Her love of learning led her to complete a master’s degree in project management from Pennsylvania State University, followed by an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the University of North Alabama pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with an emphasis in Strategy and Innovation.

Driven by the pursuit of purposeful impact, she takes pride in meeting challenges head on. She is a champion for taking on special efforts to enhance the presence of Blacks and other underrepresented minorities in STEM.

Zoe McClendon, Addison White & Ricki Fort will be presented with the Giveback Inspire Restore upLift (G.I.R.L.) Award  


Zoe McClendon, a senior at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas, excels academically with a 4.7 GPA, ranking in the top 4% of her class. Zoe’s commitment to community service is evident through her volunteer work at Nehemiah Center, a Christian daycare and middle school where she teaches dance classes, tutors kids, chaperones field trips, and helps set up events.

By volunteering weekly after school and in the summer, Zoe not only contributes to the betterment of her community, but also serves as a role model for others to follow. 


Addison White is a 9th grade Head of School Honor Roll student at St. Pius X High School in Houston, TX. Addison’s interest in science and marine animals began at age 3. While being homeschooled from the 5th to 8th grades, Addison was able to build her science knowledge by participating in several intensive courses, conferences, and camps focusing on marine zoology, life science, integrated physics, and chemistry; as well as veterinary studies.

Addison is currently enrolled in the Texas A&M AgriLife Veterinary Science Certificate Program where she is working to become a veterinary assistant before she graduates high school. Addison aspires to study marine science after high school, and then become an aquatic veterinarian 


Ricki Fort is a driven and talented 8th-grade student with a passion for technology and design. Currently enrolled at Clear Lake Intermediate, she excels academically as a member of the National Honor Society, demonstrating her commitment to excellence in her studies.

Since 2019, Ricki has been an active participant in the Black Girls Do Engineer program, where she has found her calling in the world of STEM.

 Inspired by her experiences and eager to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with others, Ricki became a STEM Ambassador in 2020. In this leadership role, she mentors and guides girls in the field of computer science, serving as a positive role model and advocate for more girls to take an interest in STEM.

Ricki aims to combine her technical skills with her artistic talents to become a graphic designer. 

Auquana "Tootie" McDowell and Ayeshia Christian Will Be Presented with Individual Volunteer of the Year Awards


Auquana "Tootie" McDowell is a native of Navasota, Texas. She graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts. Shortly after graduating from college, Auquana embarked on a career in social services where she has worked in sectors ranging from juvenile parole to residential manager and care coordinator for various state departments, mental health and IDD providers. Currently, she is serving as the service coordinator with The Harris Center in the greater Houston area.

Despite some life setbacks, she makes time to volunteer with BGDE.


Ayeshia Christian has forged a successful career in the medical industry, leveraging her expertise and compassion to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

As a healthcare professional, she brings a unique blend of clinical skills, empathy, and commitment to patient care, earning the trust and respect of her colleagues and patients, alike.

In her spare time, Ayeshia channels her passion for empowering others by volunteering with BGDE. Recognizing the importance of representation and mentorship, Ayeshia serves as a role model and mentor for young girls in the BGDE program who are aspiring to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

The Following Corporations Will Be Presented with a Volunteer of the Year Award

Marathon Oil (and BEAM Group – Black Employees & Allies at Marathon) expanded their Collegiate Shadowing Program for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In 2022, BEAM also strengthened their community partnership with Black Girls Do Engineer, continuing to host dialogue circles – open, small-group conversations that increase awareness and understanding.

Avanade Inc. has pursued a deliberate and purpose-driven strategy around Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) since their founding in 2000. It started with placing focus on a lack of women in the technology industry. To address that, Avanade had to go to the root of the problem, which was attracting girls and young women to STEM, offering scholarships and creating programs to foster their skills.

Wood. believes that much of their success depends on feeling part of a team with people that can be relied upon. What unites Wood. as a company and culture is the way they interact with their community of employees and surrounding communities. The company’s care, commitment and courage help create their culture with a cohesive set of principals to create productive and enjoyable work experiences.

Oracle Technology software company Oracle’s Alliance of Black Leaders for Excellence is the company’s employee resource group created to help enrich the careers of Black employees at Oracle. They  have worked with organizations such as UNCF and Black Data Processing Associates for more than 20 years and donated more than $12M dollars to help increase opportunities for Black students. Through Oracle Academy, the company provides free STEM education for all.

For more info, visit https://blackgirlsdoengineer.org/