January 18, 2023

Why I Give Back: Mark Orebiyi

For Mark Orebiyi, a project engineer for Clark Water in Virginia, giving back to the community has always been something that he has cherished. Born in Washington, DC and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland by Nigerian parents, Mark became active in his community at an early age through his church.

He carried his passion for giving back with him to college. As a graduate student at Villanova University, Mark helped run several STEM education outreach programs to boost middle and high school students’ interest in STEM fields and help reach the next generation of engineers, particularly those who are traditionally underrepresented.

“I have been giving back throughout my life and my favorite part is seeing how much of an impact one moment spent with someone can make on their future,” said Mark, when asked about why he gives back. “Some of my mentees in the STEM outreach programs that I facilitated at Villanova applied to the program as freshmen in high school, and now they are graduating from Villanova University themselves. Seeing someone benefit from mentorship is my favorite part of giving back.”

Today, Mark continues to volunteer his time to inspire students to explore a future in STEM. He actively participates in the Pen Pal Program through Letters to a Pre-Scientist, an organization that connects students to STEM to facilitate one-on-one connections to humanize STEM professionals and de-mystify STEM career pathways.

For Mark, he believes that giving back completes a cycle. “At some point in everybody’s life we were given an opportunity – whether we knew it or not – that helped us get to another stage in life. I believe it is our duty to ‘pay it forward’ knowing someone else did the same for us,” Mark reflected.

He also aspires to inspire others to use their time and talents for good. “I want to set an example for others who want to put in the time and effort to volunteer for a cause they believe in. Giving back can look like volunteerism, mentorship, or being a resource to someone else.”

Lastly, Mark insists, “the indirect benefits of engaging with your community are endless.” He has seen the benefit of giving back in himself. “I learned how to be more present and patient. I learned that, in order to teach, help, and learn from someone you have to be 100% devoted to the time you are spending with them. People appreciate good energy and intentions. My goal when volunteering is not just to pack 100 bags or clean 100 dishes, it is to enjoy who I am with and the community I am serving at the moment.”