BS, Industrial and Systems Engineering, 2008
Advanced Systems Engineer
This is my UAH story…
My UAH experience began the summer before my senior year of high school. Although I was poised to be Valedictorian of my high school class, I still had no idea what I wanted to major in…or where I wanted to go for college. My high school guidance counselor and math teachers encouraged me to consider engineering. Two past students of my high school, and then current engineering students at UAH, gladly agreed to let me shadow them one day during their internship. They spoke to me in detail about engineering, showed me some of their duties, and also talked to me about how great UAH was. This peaked my interest and I visited UAH amongst other schools that year. I visited larger schools and although they were impressive, but UAH stood out. The students were happy and enthusiastic as they showed us around campus, they stated that their professors were attentive and readily available, and they all enjoyed the small, tight knit feel of the campus community. I was also impressed that the engineering department I was interested in had several female faculty members and this gave me even more confidence that I could succeed in the field.
I had many great experiences at UAH. One of the most memorable was being awarded the first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) in the ISE department. I spent the summer researching integrated product teams with one of the department’s faculty members. She guided me through a thorough research process and really helped me pinpoint my interests. The research I did that summer served as the basis for my Master’s capstone course and a patentable invention. Another great experience I had at UAH was when I served as a new student orientation counselor. I met a particular young lady and her mother and they immediately identified with me as I was also a product of a single parent home. Even after the orientation weekend and over the years, the young lady kept in touch with me. She was able to come to UAH and receive an engineering degree. I recently reconnected with her and was delighted to find out that her education propelled her into a great career with Boeing. Seeing her blossom over the years and having a small part in inspiring her and helping her get to UAH really enhanced the feelings I already had about my alma mater.
Knowing that you’ve paid it forward and also helped someone just as you were helped, that is what motivates me to continue my connection to the university. There are several potential students who need someone to believe in them, an example to look to, or someone to share information with them. Growing up with a parent who didn’t graduate from high school and in a primarily blue collar town, I didn’t know a lot about the things that most people take for granted. If it hadn’t been for my counselor and teachers, the great students at UAH that took the time to mentor me, and the enthusiastic students I met during my visits to the university, I would have never known the extent of my potential. I believe if we’ve had the privilege of being educated and some measure of success, we owe it to our community and to those who invested time in us to help someone else. Many of us have several ways we give back to the community but doing so through our university has the potential for a tremendous impact because we can leverage our own great experiences, the university’s reputation, and our connections with the students and faculty to impact others’ lives. Many alumni associations put particular emphasis on money but I believe the UAH Alumni Association does a great job of encouraging alumni to give of their time and influence as well. All of those things are essential for a great alumni program and great impact on the community.