Laureen Boles is the State Director of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, an alliance of organizations whose mission is to promote equity in the implementation of statewide policies with environmental impacts. Laureen’s background includes more than 25 years of sustainable community development experience as a civil engineer and environmental planner at the City of Philadelphia.
Her academic experience includes teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and Cheyney University. With the Philadelphia City Planning Commission as clients, her students developed neighborhood plans for several communities in Philadelphia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Howard University and her Master’s degree in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
FunTimes Magazine spoke with Boles during a recent interview:
What does HBCU mean to you and how has your experience impacted what you do in the community?
An HBCU was the best place for me as I transitioned from high school to college, affording me the support I needed away from home to grow professionally and personally. The administration and instructors reinforced a sense of pride and belonging on campus, as well as an expectation of inclusion, engagement and participation anywhere in the world. I am mindful of the responsibility I have to represent the expertise of my HBCU, to demonstrate the professional capacity of HBCU students and alumni, and to provide purposeful service to all of society.
How can HBCUs be better?
I have found that my education, especially with practicing professors, laboratory, fieldwork and internships resulted in my skills and experience standing out and catapulting me above other individuals. We can do a better job of promoting the exceptional education HBCUs provide. HBCUs should also participate in peer sharing and learning opportunities to uplift, reinforce, and leverage resources. University coalitions, conferences, and programs exist and are models for HBCUs.