Representing diversity and equity in action, Sterling Bay this week will conclude its annual Sterling Bay Connects, a six-week summer internship program with a dozen students, including those selected from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Sterling Bay selected 12 students for its internship program this summer, with three students selected from HBCUs: Xavier University of Louisiana, Spelman College and Howard University. Six of the interns are women, and six are people of color. Each HBCU student will receive $3,000 scholarships for two years to support their graduation goal. Sterling Bay is one of the first local developers to have a relationship with HBCUs related to educational scholarships and internships.
Keiana Barrett, Sterling Bay Director of Diversity and Strategic Development, said, “It is crucial that we build the pipeline of diverse talent in the construction field for our collective future. This internship program for students from HBCUs has the opportunity to move the equity needle that is necessary for building talent for Sterling Bay, as well as for the industry in general.”
Selected scholars include Sherri Arnold, a rising junior at Xavier University of Louisiana; Myana Johnson, a rising junior at Howard University; and Kennedy Cole, a rising junior at Spelman College. These outstanding students are receiving SB Connects to Excellence Scholarships and/or SB Connects to HBCUs Scholarships, in partnership with Chicago Scholars. In the past several weeks, interns had opportunities to visit Sterling Bay properties, as well as learn about construction, site selection, and leasing.
Xavier University of Louisiana rising junior Sherri Arnold of South Shore was among those selected for the prestigious internship. Arnold attended Whitney Young Magnet School and decided to attend an HBCU to expand her horizons. “I grew up in a single-parent household,” Arnold said. “My mom worked in healthcare and also worked with creating resources for homeless people. She opened the door for me to see the disparity in my neighborhood. I want to work to change that disparity.”
She wants a seat at the table and to see more diversity in the industry overall. “Having more diversity makes you think about things you might otherwise not. I want my community to be thought of when these buildings are being built, and I am here to bridge that gap,” she said.
Kennedy Cole, an Auburn-Gresham native and rising junior at Howard, said, “Being at Sterling Bay has allowed me to be able to apply the things I learned into the career path that I am Sterling Bay currently pursuing. It is an experience that has shaped the way I will go about my remaining two years of college and beyond.”
Myana Johnson of Chatham is a rising junior at Howard University, where she is a Political Science Pre-Law major. Prior to Howard, she graduated from Jones College Prep in Chicago. Very interested in the fields of real estate and infrastructure, Johnson said Sterling Bay has given her a stepping stone. ”This internship made me feel capable, that I have a lot to offer to this field,” she said.
The students’ internships end Aug. 4 with a capstone presentation highlighting their gained knowledge and experience at Sterling Bay. Through this program and others, Sterling Bay is building unique relationships with higher education institutions, creating opportunities today for a more inclusive and diverse workforce tomorrow.
A world-class real estate developer, Sterling Bay has deep involvement in creating and growing diversity and equity in construction, real estate and the life sciences sector in Chicago. Beyond the company’s efforts to engage minority-owned construction firms at Lincoln Yards – a 53-acre mixed-use community being developed on former industrial land along the North Branch of the Chicago River – this commitment includes investing in building careers and creating a pipeline of the next generation in real estate.