Senior Tabitha Gardner talks Time Management, Clubs and Community

Original article by Nicole Zelniker at COE Communications.

As an incoming student at NC State, Tabitha Gardner planned to, “come here, get a degree, and leave.”

Four years later, she graduates this May as an industrial and systems engineering major, an Africana studies and statistics minor, a board member of two different on-campus clubs, a former design mentor and an undergraduate researcher and more.

In her words, “I came here and created an experience.”

Tabitha Gardner posing in her graduation cap and gown in front of the NC State Belltower.

Gardner, who is from Washington, North Carolina, is the president of Acts2Fellowship, or A2F. A2F is a Christian fellowship organization that runs bible study groups and weekly services.

As president of A2F, Gardner is also part of the sophomore, junior and senior group within the organization, though she also makes time for first-year members.

“Mentorship is important and being new to campus,” she said. “It’s difficult to have access to everything.”

Gardner knows this from personal experience. Coming into college, she says she knew her faith was important to hold on to, but it would be difficult to maintain by herself. She wanted to be a part of something more.

Acts2Fellowship, or A2F, pause wrapping gifts to pose for a group photo.

“I wanted to make sure I was actively involved in the community that would help strengthen me and my faith and would help me grow,” said Gardner. “Having a community of believers was important to me, and then I stayed with them just because of the rich relationships I was able to build.”

Rich relationships seem to be a theme of Gardner’s time at NC State. In addition to the communities she found on campus more generally and in A2F, Gardner also served as the treasurer of The National Society of Black Engineers, where some of her responsibilities are holding events and coming up with fundraising ideas.

“I’m in constant communication with the president and vice president about the finances of the department and our advisor about our budget and donations,” she said.

NSBE Gala attendees pose for a group photo.

Doing all of this on top of her classes, plus her role as an Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Student Ambassador, required, “a lot of planning.”

“If I don’t put something on my calendar when I get it, it will slip my mind,” she said. “If I write everything down, I can make time for things, and then I plan my homework around my free space.

“I think another big part of my time management is setting up my priorities and completing tasks in that order. I think that point has been very valuable to me as I assess what I have the capacity for and as I make sure I show up with the best I have to offer in the things that I do participate in.”

Next year, Gardner will continue as a master’s student of industrial engineering at NC State with the GEM Fellowship, a scholarship program for underrepresented groups who wish to get a master’s or doctoral degree in engineering or science.

NSBE Convention attendees pose for a group photo in front of an event banner.

The GEM program was founded in 1976 at the University of Notre Dame. Since then, they have offered aid to over 3,000 scholars.

“I was pretty confident I wanted to come back to NC State, but the GEM Fellowship recommends you apply to at least three different schools so you know your options,” Gardner explained. “It was actually a really good opportunity to look at other schools and decide what was best for me.”

In addition to NC State, Gardner also applied to North Carolina A&T State University and the University of Michigan. She was accepted to all three schools.

The best decision for Gardner, she found, was to stay with her Wolfpack. “My family being here was a big reason for me to stay, but another thing that influenced my decision was the relationships I built here,” she said. “I love my community at NC State. I feel like I’ve been blessed with people looking out for me and helping me find opportunities I didn’t know existed.”