Wise’s company FuzeU connects STEM students with invaluable mentors in their fields.

While studying at the University of Arkansas, Shambrekia Wise was a Gates Millennium Scholar, a Fulbright Scholarship recipient, and an Inaugural Silas Hunt Scholar. Committed to becoming a pediatric pulmonologist, Wise still found herself feeling like a small fish in a big pond.

shambrekia wise

“It was a really huge change going from growing up in a town with 800 people to relocating to a city of 20,000 people then attending college with 20,000 people. It was definitely an adjustment, but my mentors Andy Mauk, Gigi Secuban, Cedric Kenner, Charles Robinson, Mary Williams, Christina Wong-Poy & Dr. Johnetta Cross-Brazzell were all absolutely amazing in my transition and supported me along the way in obtaining my degree. Not only did I complete my studies in Biology and African American Studies with an Organic Chemistry thesis, but most importantly, I finished with a purpose: Because of my path, I realized that I could help other students achieve their dreams as my mentors did for me by providing them with support along their academic journey. Being low-income, first-gen and especially undertaking a STEM major was a challenge, but I proved to myself my dreams were achievable. As someone who believed in paying it forward, I wanted to convey this same message by mentoring students who identified with my path.”

Foundation of FuzeU

Because of these connections during her undergraduate years, Wise started FuzeU, a new company dedicated to supporting the diverse next generation of STEM students through mentorship.

“Ideally, I’m setting up a peer-to-peer-to-professional mentorship pipeline for those students that hit campus and have no idea where to turn for a network. This definitely helps them with career development skills so they’re prepared once they graduate and become young professionals”

After pitching FuzeU at SXSW this year, Wise and her FuzeU team are currently developing the company’s mentor strategies and solutions through a pilot series, in which companies can try out FuzeU’s mentorship network.

“We are in a pilot stage right now, where we have over thirteen companies represented and over twenty mentors that are on the scene with our students, so I’m really thankful for that,” Wise said. “It’s my hope that, at the end of this pilot, we knock it out the park, it’s an amazing experience for all and we’re able to take that information to our volunteer mentors’ leadership within their companies so that they will engage with us and actually become a client.”

Wise’s Own Mentors: Guiding Forces and Insightful Support Systems

An entrepreneur today, Wise’s mentors as a student were spread across fields, allowing her to develop nuanced leadership skills that draw from a variety of disciplines.

“Two of the first peer-mentors I had as a Silas Hunt Scholarship recipient were Justin Grimes and C.J. Mathis. They were some of best people and later on, friends in the world” Wise said. “We had great conversations, and they were amazing in helping me get acclimated to campus life and making the most out of my experience. Dr. Johnetta Cross-Brazzell, at the time, was the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. While she always had a million things going on, she always made time for her students and it was because of her and our relationship that I understood a lot of the intricacies of what it took to be a leader that were not taught in the classroom.”

One of Wise’s most fervent cheerleaders today, however? Her four-year-old daughter.

“I think one of the best moments I’ve had, on top of pitching at SXSW, as an early entrepreneur was when I came home after that competition and I was able to hug my little girl. This precious moment was short-lived when she found out I didn’t win. I then had to explain to her why I only didn’t come home with a check, but why I didn’t think of the idea that did win! We discount a lot of what little people see and understand, but she’s definitely one that sees it and gets it” Wise said. “Having her be my biggest cheerleader is just a blessing and absolutely humbling.”

Entrepreneur, Writer, Mother

Outside of her business, Wise enjoys spending time with her daughter—the two like cooking, playing soccer, and are currently getting ready for kindergarten. Wise is also a published author, and her first book, Last Stop…Dupont Circle, was released in January 2018.

“All proceeds from my self-published novel go towards the platform and I’ve raised about three hundred dollars right now, so that’s been cool to see those profits go towards my dream,” Wise said. “I’m looking forward to starting the second novel this Spring. I love to write and I’m really looking forward to the messages I get to convey in my second novel.”

Wise’s Keys to Success

Wise’s myriad accomplishments have served her well in her entrepreneurial experiences. When seeking out guidance, however, she’s come across opportunities that can do more harm than help. Her biggest advice in avoiding these situations?

“Protect your time. Not everybody deserves to have your time. And as a young, budding CEO, and to be completely honest, a woman in tech, it’s often hard when you see certain people you think can help you, and they pass that card off to you like they want to be a resource, but, really the acquaintance is for self-serving purposes. It’s not for you at all. Learning to vet intentionally and ask questions early has made all the difference in time management for me,” Wise said.

In establishing FuzeU, Wise has found her passion—helping others achieve their academic and professional goals.

“I would say to anyone that is second guessing or waiting on that perfect moment to make their dream come true: there’s not ever going to be a perfect moment. You have to make your moments perfect,” Wise said. “And, you have to know that if this is something that you’re passionate about, you will figure it out and you will absolutely make it happen.”