Donovan Hardy '17 Embarks on STEM Career in North Carolina

Last we connected with Donovan Hardy, CTK Class of 2017, he was finishing his studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta in advance of a December 2021 graduation. We caught up with him recently, and he spoke of crossing the graduation finish line at Morehouse and how he has leveraged his Chemistry degree to start his post-graduate career in North Carolina.

Donovan was first attracted to Morehouse after watching a video of one of their graduation ceremonies. He was determined not to miss the opportunity to walk across the commencement stage himself. During the 3rd weekend in May 2022, Donovan received his hard-earned Morehouse diploma (BS, Chemistry) alongside his classmates and in front of his proud family members. His family threw a weekend long party in celebration of Donovan’s achievement at their rented Airbnb home.

Landing his first post-college job took some “grit” and patience, requiring Donovan to follow the Morehouse principle of You have to keep going”. After a few months of job searching, a mentor made him aware of an opening for a post-baccalaureate lab opportunity at Duke University. He accepted the job offer in March with a May start date, driving to North Carolina immediately following the Morehouse graduation weekend. His first full-time job was as a Research Associate in an Evolutionary Biology lab collaborating with a Duke professor in her study of mantis shrimp. His specific role was to use his chemistry background to employ different methods to collect data on the tensile strength of these crustaceans, who possess claws that can strike and smash with extreme quickness. While it was a positive (and unique) learning experience, he decided to search for a job opportunity that was more aligned with his career interests & goals, and offered compensation that met the area’s cost of living.

Donovan is thankful that the Duke lab job introduced him to the Research Triangle Park (RTP) area, with its abundance of research opportunities and cutting edge technology companies doing exciting work.” In the Fall, he took the initiative to attend a networking event for area college students. He was contacted by a recruiter in December, and subsequently interviewed for a position at Micross Components in RTP. He clicked right away with the interviewers, talking science and technology with cool people who were passionate about their work and welcoming towards him. In January, Donovan started at Micross Advanced Interconnect Technologies as a Process Engineer. The company builds microchips for microelectronic devices for the commercial market, primarily medical, defense/aerospace, and R&D industries. For most of his workday, he is in a clean room environment wearing a head-to-toe gown/bunny suit and PPE. He operates tools & machinery and monitors processes involved in building and assembling semiconductors to the specific needs of their customers. “It is gratifying to be able to use my chemistry background and knowledge to design something that will help people in the medical field and in the defense of our country.

(Donovan pictured above operating an Electron-Beam Physical Vapor Deposition tool)

Having settled into a full-time, better paying position that allows him to use his technical expertise, Donovan is determined to carve out time outside of work for his goal of giving back. He first embraced service and social justice initiatives during his time as a student at Christ the King. In his early experiences at Duke and Micross, he has seen first-hand the under representation of Black scientists and tech workers. Donovan remains motivated to being a role model for young Black students, volunteering his time to mentoring and encouraging their pursuit of STEM educations and careers. He also intends to lend his support to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a group he was actively involved with while at Morehouse.

On a personal level, Donovan is settling into the North Carolina area. It has helped to finally be living in the same area as his partner, Kayla. After living apart for much of their relationship, they both welcomed Kayla being relocated to the RTP area from California in the Fall as part of her Agri-tech company’s rotational program.