My entire life – from choosing to play high school basketball, to studying chemical engineering and entering the workforce – I’ve wanted to prove a point. Girls and women can conquer any challenge put in front of them. As an athlete, I wanted to compete against anyone, not just the girls I played with. In my career, I chose the most challenging engineering specialty. It also happened to be dominated by men.
I had something to prove, and along the way I connected with other women who felt the same. We built a community that supported our ambitions. We knew that we would go further, together.
At a time when women continue to face challenges affecting our everyday lives and opportunities, I believe that now’s the time to be inspired by those who paved the way for us. And again, we can rise together. If history has taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate the strength and bond of our community.
As I reflect on the current climate, I am reminded of something my mother would tell me and my sister throughout our childhood: “This too shall pass.” As a single mother raising two girls in Michigan, my mom showed me the power of independence. She showed me that you can do anything you set your mind to, even when all odds are against you. The message she gave me growing up, and one I still apply to everything I do, is this: “Finish what you start and do everything with excellence, humility and a human-centered spirit.”
It’s that human-centered spirit that I have found to be a common trait in the women and allies I’ve met and worked with along the way.
My journey has also been influenced by men who have shown up in meaningful ways. Growing up, Mr. John Pugh was a beacon of support in my community. He helped me and countless others cover tuition expenses when the money simply wasn’t there. Earlier in my career, a former boss poured years of knowledge and experience into me. He ensured I was included in discussions and had a seat at the table so that when his retirement came, I would be next in line to lead.