About Us

Our Story

During 2013, the core founding team of 15 multi-state individuals collaborated on the concept for the organization, i-Trek.  Now, with the addition of several newly interested volunteers, we’ve rapidly grown to an organization of curious, passionate and committed individuals who share the vision of matching students with opportunities outside the classroom and supporting them in achieving their full potential. The team comprises several MIT Graduate students, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Graduate Student, working professionals and retirees with a wide range of skills and experiences. Their interest and expertise lends itself to a diverse thought leadership that will bring the resources and the outreach opportunities to steer students into various Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and associated fields of study.

There is no doubt that STEM outreach is gaining traction; i-Trek has already been featured on a radio show and has exhibited at multiple college fairs and expos, all within its first few months of existence. We are excited because our pilot “Trek”, which was launched during the summer of 2014 in Key Largo, Florida was very successful. Continue to follow our progress as we work toward our mission to empower underserved and/or underrepresented high school and college students by providing opportunities and resources for them to gain critical thinking skills, experiential knowledge and the experiences necessary to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the STEM fields. We invite you to join us on our journey!

Annual Reports

2015 Annual Report
2014 Annual Report
2013 Annual Report


Our Board

Niaja Farve, PhD: CEO/President

Niaja Farve is one of the founders and CEO of i-Trek. The concept and need to provide outreach and opportunities for STEM students, originated out of Niaja’s observations as an electrical engineering student, and was an idea which she found attracted the attention of large research panels.  Her concept was submitted and funded, and i-Trek was born. Niaja received her bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University in 2010, and a master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, in 2012, both in Electrical Engineering. In 2016 she completed her PhD at MIT in Computer Science. At Morgan State she led the first SCUBA Club and the Engineering Student Organization Council. More recently at MIT she won first place in the Founder’s Journey Education Challenge, second place in the Computational Camera’s Application Competition, and earned a Teaching Certificate from the Dean of Graduate Education. Founding i-Trek is her most recent way of giving back to the community, and as is evident, outreach has been one of her passions. Past efforts include serving as a volunteer with BICO (Baltimore Inner City Outings) in Baltimore, MD, tutoring middle and high school students in math, and cleaning up community gardens. She has also facilitated and attended undergraduate school site visits, giving presentations on graduate school as a means of further inspiring students from underserved institutions to take the next step and enroll in  graduate school. Overall, she has a passion for knowledge, giving back to the community and finding creative solutions to challenging, real world problems.

Kelvin Frazier: Board Chair

Kelvin Frazier was born and raised in Savannah, GA where he also obtained his bachelor degrees with honor in chemistry and mathematics at Savannah State University. Kelvin is currently a Ph.D candidate at Massachusetts of Technology (MIT) in the department of chemistry. At MIT, Kelvin works in the Swager lab where he studies the novel fabrication of carbon nanotube-based sensors for explosive detection and food quality analysis. In i-Trek, Kelvin is part of the fundraising and Trek committee. Prior to joining i-Trek, Kelvin had experiences in starting/revitalizing various organizations and a company from the ground up and looks forward to applying those experiences to i-Trek. Applying resources in STEM for underrepresented and underserved college student is very important. My background actually matches the organization’s mission. This is why I was very excited to be joining i-Trek and to see it grow.

Sharon Briskman: CFO

Sharon is the Chief Financial Officer for Greystone Servicing Corporation, Inc.  She has over 25 years experience in the mortgage finance area.  Sharon began her accounting career as an auditor with Coopers and Lybrand.  her clientele included real estate clients, The International Monetary Fund and not for profit organizations.  She started her career in mortgage finance as the Controller at Washington Capital.  After helping sell the multifamily agency lender, she was hired at WMF Group (a publicly traded multifamily agency lender) which was purchased by Prudential Multifamily Mortgage.  After Prudential, she continued her career at AMI Capital, Inc. assisting in the sale to Wachovia Bank, N.A.  After the sale, Sharon became the Director of Multifamily Agency Servicing for Wachovia which was purchased by Wells Fargo.  She joined Greystone in November 2005.  She attended Vanderbilt University and obtained a Bachelor of Accountancy from George Washington University.  She is an active Certified Public Accountant.

Desiree Farve: Board Member

Desiree Farve is a mortgage banking professional with over 25 years’ experience working as an executive for various financial firms, including national banks and savings & loans institutions. Always one to support her community, she has always volunteered her time to support various nonprofit organizations that promote the outdoors and provide comfort and assistance to children, the elderly and the disabled.  She is looking forward to innovative research projects that contribute to improving our environment coming forth from the trekkers who participate in the i-Trek program.

Tsehai Grell:  Board Member

Originally from the Commonwealth of Dominica, Tsehai Grell graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with the highest honors. Tsehai began her graduate studies at MIT in the fall of 2012, and her work as a member of the Drennan lab in the department of chemistry focuses on elucidating protein structures.

A Few of Our Volunteers

David Hill: Fundraising Committee Member

David Hill is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT. He works in the Media Lab’s Biomechatronics Group, where his research focuses on developing assistive and augmentative devices for human locomotion. Prior to attending MIT, David received a B.S. in Physics from Morehouse College. While there, David conducted research on optics for EUV lasers. David sits on i-Trek’s Fundraising Committee and has been involved with the organization since its inception in 2013.

Darryl Green: Management Committee Member

Darryl Green hails from Cambridge, MD, located on the eastern shore of Maryland. He attended Morgan State University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Computer Engineering. Currently, Darryl is completing his Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering. While in school, he has interned and been employed at several companies such as General Electric, in the Aviation Division, and the Department of the Army at Aberdeen Testing and Evaluation Command. He  is currently employed as an Electrical Engineer at the  Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD, in the Avionics Department. Darryl is a member of several engineering organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Institute of Industrial Engineers

Imani Palmer: Webmaster

I am a computer science PhD student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a focus in security. I am also a research assistant in the Coordinated Science Laboratory (CSL). I am a volunteer with I-Trek’s PR department where I mainly focus on website design and development. I have a Bachelors degree in computer science from the University of Pittsburgh, this is where I started my hobby in website development. I chose I-Trek because my undergraduate education did not include research experience and I want to help other students achieve the experiences I did not.

Sharon Lewis: Advisory Board Member

Sharon Lewis brings 25 years’ experience in corporate oversight, process improvement and human capital management in the government contracting arena. Sharon’s career has been primarily focused on leadership development and driving employee engagement and ultimately, customer success. She has held assignments with non-profits as well as for profit organizations, leading the human resources, contracts and program management activities, and has been instrumental in rolling out continuous process improvement initiatives in the software engineering industry. Sharon holds an MSc. In Human Resource Management from American University, and a B.A. in Management Studies from the University of Maryland, University College. She is a member of Society for Human Resource Management and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources.

Ginette Mayas Samwel: Writer

I am a PR volunteer and writer for i-Trek. I am currently a stay at home mother of twin girls who are 7 years old and in the first grade. I studied French literature in college and obtained my master’s degree in French from Middlebury College. Later I earned my law degree from Northeastern University and established a career in the financial services doing legal compliance. My interest in i-Trek is the result of my wanting to be part of an organization that will motivate me to be pro-active in helping my children develop solid math, problem solving and reasoning skills as preparation for careers in the future. My husband is an electrical engineer, but somehow none of his technical training has rubbed off on me. I have an abiding respect for people who pursue STEM education and careers, and I am excited to volunteer with i-Trek in their mission to promote STEM education.

Tim Wright: Writer

I am a University of Maryland graduate living in Aspen Hill, MD.  I work at the Gazette Newspaper as a warehouse supervisor.  I am a volunteer with I-Trek’s PR department, and will be assisting with PR duties including writing, proofreading, and various duties within the communications framework. I have a Bachelors degree in communications, and I have done a couple PR/writing internships, including one at the Make-A-Wish foundation.  I chose I-Trek because I feel that working with a promising group that pursues such a noble and worthwhile cause will be a great experience for me moving forward.

Karen Wilkins: Project Manager

Karen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology and an MBA from Seattle University.  She has 15 years’ experience in the aerospace industry, where she managed customer accounts, coordinated product enhancements and negotiated contracts as well as several years’ experience managing global software projects from her home office.  Karen lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and son and enjoys skiing, hiking and many other outdoor activities in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Courtney Ngai: Grant Writer

Originally from NJ, Courtney received her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Delaware. While there, she became interested in problem-based learning (PBL), which led to her current position as a doctoral candidate at University of Massachusetts Boston. At UMass, Courtney investigates students’ chemical thinking from grade 8 through the end of college. As part of this research, she works collaboratively with a team of teachers and other university researchers to survey students and analyze their thinking within chemistry contexts.

Joy Johnson:

Joy is a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at MIT and is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina. She graduated from MIT with an SM in Electrical Engineering in 2009, and from North Carolina State University with dual BS Degrees in Electrical & Computer Engineering. Previously, she has been heavily involved in many programs to help teach and train the next generation of engineers, scientists and technologists, including teaching at MIT SEED Academy from 2007-2011, cofounding/running the MIT Grad Catalyst from 2009-2013, teaching assistant for MIT undergraduate courses, and now working with iTrek in any way she can! Currently, Joy is completing her dissertation and leading mobile development for a music technology startup in Cambridge, MA.