Turning lemons into leadership lemonade

Boeing announces expanded partnership with Thurgood Marshall College Fund

June 17, 2022 in Community

Jaida West

Heaven Guerin, a project manager on Boeing’s Global Talent Acquisition team, discovered a talent for leading people at a young age.

“One summer I gathered a bunch of kids from my neighborhood and set up a lemonade stand,” said Guerin. “I figured we could sit around all summer, or we could do something fun and make some money. I’ve always liked being around people and leading a project.”

This passion led Guerin to pursue a business degree at Clark Atlanta University, where she applied for and was accepted into the inaugural class of the Boeing | Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholars (TMCF) program. The program provides students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with scholarships and internship opportunities at Boeing, as well as immersive boot-camp experiences at Boeing sites across the U.S. and on-campus networking engagements.

“This program has been one of my greatest opportunities,” said Guerin, who completed two Boeing internships prior to being hired full-time in 2021. “We not only get tools and resources, but we are empowered to make an impact at the company. I always feel supported.”

In an effort to continue building out the talent pipeline and onboarding early-career employees like Guerin, Boeing on Friday announced a new $8 million, multi-year expanded partnership with TMCF that will include a new fast-track hiring program to supply technical talent for open positions at Boeing locations in close geographic proximity to HBCUs. The partnership, which builds on an initial $6 million investment in 2018, will also support campus recruitment initiatives, career immersion activities, TMCF Leadership Institute programming and student scholarships at HBCUs through 2026.

“There aren’t a lot of companies that will invest in you for three years, but Boeing does,” said Jaida West, also an inaugural TMCF Scholar who is now working in financial planning at Boeing. “I think the biggest benefit is the professional development. I was encouraged to push my boundaries and take opportunities outside my comfort zone.”

Heaven Guerin

Since establishing the award-winning Boeing l TMCF partnership, Boeing has quadrupled intern hiring through priority partner HBCUs and extended the company’s reach to more than 6,800 HBCU students. The partnership supports Boeing’s racial equity commitments and goal to improve the representation of Black talent at the company.

“Being part of this program made me feel valued as a Black man in today’s society,” said Jalen Mathis, a recent Morehouse College graduate who will be joining Boeing this summer. “We’re challenged to be the best individuals we can be. This experience has challenged me and showed me how I can truly unlock my full potential.”

Mathis is inspired by fellow Morehouse College graduate and president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, Ted Colbert.

“There isn’t a lot of Black representation at the executive level in corporate America,” said Mathis. “I want to be part of that change and work to bring in more African American talent. I want to help guide that next class of leaders.”

“Our company’s success and our ability to innovate for our customers is driven by how we work together and live our values,” said Colbert. “That includes prioritizing equity, diversity and inclusion, which is vital to achieving better business outcomes. Strategic partnerships, like those with HBCUs and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, help create a space where students can flourish – and they establish a talent pipeline that is vital to future innovation across the aerospace industry and here at Boeing.”

To date, TMCF has awarded more than $500 million in assistance to HBCUs. In addition to scholarships, TMCF provides programmatic, capacity building, public policy and advocacy support for the 47 TMCF member schools and the nearly 300,000 students who attend them.

For Guerin, TMCF unexpectedly led her to her dream job — working with teams across the country to help attract talent to Boeing.

“I wanted to work closely with people where I have responsibility for a project and can drive value,” said Guerin. “I plan to get my Master’s degree in the next couple years, build my network and become a mentor to someone like me who is just starting their career.

“I almost let this opportunity slip because of self-doubt. My advice is to take the leap of faith because it will be worth it.”

Click here to learn more about the expanded Boeing | Thurgood Marshall College Fund program and engagement with TMCF partner universities.