Pursuing a Passion is More than her Day Job
Alumna pursues engineering, music, and her own path
It might seem strange to mingle two mediums like engineering and music together, but Kameelah Samar Majied is quick to point out how her two passions in life have a lot in common.
"If you think about it, they are very similar. Both allow me a different kind of freedom, a creativity. They both allow me the freedom to be inventive. (For instance), when you’re working with lyrics and music, you’re building a song,” she says.
Majied ’00, M.S. ’08, has managed to put her engineering degree from Stevens to good use. She began her career at Bristol-Myers Squibb designing production packaging equipment for Oncology & Cardiovascular categories with assignments in Puerto Rico and Indiana. She then ventured into the cosmetic/personal care industrial as a package development manager in the Luxury division at L’Oreal USA. For the past four years, she has worked as a package engineering manager with Limited Brands, the parent organization of several well-known companies such as Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret. Majied works on major brand categories with a key focus on component design, production fulfillment, and innovation.
But her creative side is also reflected in her “moonlighting” gig as a singer and lyricist. This central New Jersey resident has been singing and writing music since she was young and currently heads her own five-member band, the Kameelah Samar Jazz Collective. The Collective sings locally in New Jersey and New York at various venues, such as weddings and clubs. “I have a lot of fun with music, but I can’t support myself from it,” she says in between slight laughs.
During a recent interview, Majied easily conveys her passion for engineering and music. While pursuing her baccalaureate degree at Stevens, she was heavily involved with activities outside of her studies. Among her many activities, she was a Resident Assistant, ran on the track team, played soccer, belonged to Alpha Phi Omega, wrote a column for The Stute, served on Student Government, was a member & leader of the engineering societies (ASME, NSBE, SWE), was a member of the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (STEP), performed in the Glee Club and Jazz Ensemble and was a member of Gear and Triangle. “I was able to pursue all the things I love and I was able to do that because of Stevens,” she says.
Majied enjoys being busy and even today, she still has her hand in many pots. About four years ago, she became a certified English as a Second Language instructor and currently teaches ESL to adults at a Perth Amboy, N.J., location. She’s also involved with the National Society of Black Engineers as a member of the Regional Alumni Executive Board.
Oh, and she’s working on a CD, which will be released this fall, titled “Celebrate the Season,” a collection of Christmas songs, some holiday classic tunes and some of her original creation.
Dave Zimmerman ’90, executive director of the De Baun Center for Performing Arts at Stevens, says he’s not surprised to hear how full Majied’s life is these days. “She is an example of someone making their degree from Stevens work for them,’’ he says. “And Kameelah’s right: There is a correlation between music and engineering, and she really makes both work for her in her life.”
But Zimmerman thinks Majied has yet to reach her peak either musically or professionally.
“I wouldn’t be surprised in 10 years to hear that she’s being honored for her work in the engineering field and also to hear that she has a successfully-selling CD on the charts,” he says. “She does so well in both fields. She really is a talented singer and has such a positive, outgoing personality.”
Born in New York City to parents from Trinidad and Tobago, Majied was a sophomore at Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, N.J., when she first heard about Stevens. She was volunteering at CCHS during a college fair, helping to set up the tables for the representatives, when she saw the Stevens table. She signed her name to a list for more information and from then on, she started receiving literature continuously, right up until her senior year. “I did consider engineering as a career. I was always interested in it. I just love the creativity with engineering. I love being able to build and create things,” she says. She was the first of her generation in her family to graduate from college.
Besides providing a well-rounded experience, Stevens also provided something else for Majied: confidence. “Not that I ever had a real confidence problem,” she laughs. “But Stevens allowed me to grow and lead in any career I chose. It was an additional boost to my confidence,” she says.