August 30, 2007Her job: Software Engineer , Software Engineering Directorate
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
Currently I serve as the Software Engineer Lead at the Software Engineering Directorate on Redstone Arsenal Military Base for two government aviation programs. I provide support to our customers and help develop working relationships with them in order to formulate proactive solutions for current and future needs. I travel to different facilities to visit contractors working on the program and discuss any issues and concerns.
Why did you choose engineering?
When I was in high school I wanted to major in math, but I really did not know that much about engineering. I attended college majoring in math but when I graduated I could not find a job that was interesting to me. All the jobs I wanted I needed an engineering background. I decided that I had to go back to school and get my engineering degree in order to have the jobs I wanted.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
Alabama AA&M University in Normal, Alabama - B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science University of Alabama in Huntsville in Huntsville, AL - B.S. in Electrical Engineering Florida Institute of Technology at Redstone Arsenal, AL - M.S. Management with concentration in Information Systems
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
At the Software Engineering Directorate (SED) I am able to work with all types of engineers. Everyone at SED is not a computer software engineer therefore we get to learn different things from different people. There are test labs at SED were we test missiles by having flight simulations within the labs. Actually sitting inside a Hummer like our soldiers do, and making sure that the missiles we send them are going to fire correctly, or the airplane that they fly are going to detect what they are looking for is great! Knowing that I help our soldiers everyday with what I do at my office brings a warm feeling to me every time.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
The thing I like most about being an engineer is the respect that you receive from others. Being an engineer means that you have a certain knowledge that others seek to obtain. An engineer is multi-taskable within the job industry. Engineers are being hired for everything and that is because others realize that as an engineer you can just about do anything because of your background in science and in math.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
I am proudest of my educational career. I say this because I was able to go to school and obtain one degree and turn around with a husband, two kids and a full time job to get two more degrees. It was hard but I am proud of myself for it.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
While I obtained my degree I got married and had two children. There were many nights that it was hard because I delivered one week, took one week off from school and was back in the classroom the next. I could not get behind in my studies because I knew the information didn't come to me easily, like it did with others. I really had to study so at one point I decided to stop working while in school so that I could spend all my time on campus studying. I would drop off my kids at daycare and go straight to the student lounge and be on campus until that night. Other students used to ask if I lived there because I would be the first person they saw in the morning and the last that afternoon.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I have been happily married for five years to my husband, William, and we have two beautiful girls, Nevaeh, five years old and Alivia, three years old. I esteem my supportive husband for always being by my side to help with everything before I ask. This has made my journey to obtaining a degree in engineering easier.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
My goal in life is to help my daughters and other young women learn to respect themselves first, then to realize that they can accomplish anything and be anything that they desire, through Christ Jesus. I will continue to think on what my mother said about getting my doctorate, but right now I would like to enjoy what I have accomplish so far, doing all of it before the age of 30.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My parents have had a great influence on my life choices. They have taught me always to believe in myself and to never allow anyone to tell me I can't do it. With guidance from my parents, they instilled in me at an early age that gender meant nothing as long as I worked hard and prayed. I sought to do my best, knowing that they would be proud of that. As a matter of fact, when I called my mom to tell her that I completed requirements for my master's degree her response was "Congratulations, now when were you going to get started on your doctorate?" My parents have always taught me to never give up in life and to always put God first in whatever I do.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
Everything that I have done in my life would have been impossible without acknowledgment of God as my savior, director and sustainer. I tell all young women and men, especially African-American, to not be afraid to try or to ask. There is nothing wrong with getting help from someone because they did not get where they are by themselves. If it was going to be easy then everyone would major in it, you will have rough times but just keep your head up and keep praying and you will be just fine.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family. We love to go on vacations whenever we get a chance. Our family loves sports so we attended local games when we get a chance. I am also an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. where we do numerous activities within the community. I have been a member of various organizations such as the National Council of Negro Women and National Society of Black Engineers. I was also the 2006 recipient of the "You Go Girl" Award from the Sui Generis Civic/Social Club and the 2006 Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Honoree for Academic Excellence.