Did you ever want to quit?

Hi Ms. DaSilva. First I want to say that I find what you do so inspirational and meaningful and after reading your profile and thoughts, I am really motivated to pursue engineering with an ignited passion. My question is not very direct; I guess it is more of an opinion or a suggestion. I am currently in grade 12, and have applied to several Engineering Programs in Canada, most of which are Chemical Engineering. My question is what really inspired you to go into this field and also were there any times (perhaps during your undergrad.) that you felt overwhelmed and wanting to quit? If so, what is it that kept you going? Thank you for taking the time to answer, it is much appreciated.
-Nida
posted by Nida, Mississauga on January 16, 2014

Answer by Sara DaSilva

Hi Nida! Thanks for your kind words. Good for you for pursuing what you think you will really like to do in your future career. What inspired me before I went to college was my teachers who encouraged girls and boys to achieve the same accomplishments in every class. I liked science especially and I had teachers that really challeged me, and I never thought engineering was really for men vs. women. I liked that science was hard for a lot of people and it was something I was good at, so I knew there would be opportunity to get a job. I also thank my mom for pursuing a job in science and never letting me think there was anything different about that, it was just another totally viable career path. As I have grown in my career I continue to be inspired by other people around me-not just women, but many people I work with and who have come before me cracking the glass ceiling and making inroads for progress. So many women are truly trying to make a difference for the women engineers that will be joining the work force, like Mary Barra, Debbie Sterling, and researchers Dr. Kathleen Buse and Dr. Herminia Ibarra. I look up to these women and they inspire me.

There have been so many times I doubted whether I was on the right path, and I think that's normal. But as I have matured I have stuck to what I am passionate about and I don't make any apologies for being that passionate about whatever it is. For example, I really love statistics, and I enjoy that as part of my job. I also feel passionate about hiring great people into my company and encouraging young women to continue to smash the glass ceiling. I try to find ways every day to make those things a part of my life because that is what "gets me up in the morning." A few years ago, an upper level manager told me that in order to help me find the best career path, he wanted to know what I really loved to do--not what I was necessarily great at or what I thought other people wanted me to do, or even a specific job title. That is a grounding thing for me to think about when I feel like it's not worth fighting the "norm" of a male dominated field or if I feel like my work and home life are out of balance. As long as I continue to pursue life with passion, including making my job something I'm passionate about, happiness will come to me. Good luck and pursue your passion!!