“I Was Made For This” – Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day 2022
I was made for this.
I don’t mean that I was born for this. Some people have this sense of destiny or fate, or they just really know what they want to do when they “grow up.” They just seem to know what they want to do (insert shrug here). Not so with me: it took me a while to figure “me” out – to make me.
As I look back on that process of making me who I am now, the most impactful, life-changing moments were the most subtle.
I grew up with little means but with well-resourced schools and teachers who recognized a kid with an insatiable appetite for learning. After school, my dad would take my sister and I to the library where we devoured as many books as we could get our hands on. I didn’t discriminate; I read Reader’s Digest, To Kill a Mockingbird, books on entomology, and the backs of cereal boxes. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn, the more possibilities there were. I remember filling out college applications thinking, “How am I supposed to choose just one thing to study?” Engineering seemed like the best way of taking what I enjoyed (math, physics, and art history) while allowing myself to be useful. I chose to study structural engineering.
Engineering seemed like the best way of taking what I enjoyed
(math, physics, and art history) while allowing myself to be useful.
At KPFF, I have been blessed with generous teachers and mentors. I learned not only the technical aspects of structural engineering, but also how to plan, how to deal with stressful situations, how to use conflict to reach resolution, how to dialog. This work often feels hard because it is hard. But I have been trained to do hard things, and I can face them with both courage and creativity – this is what I hope to pass on to others I am training.
I choose to do hard things.
It’s not what I was looking for when we met, but I cannot stress enough how important my partner has been to my career. I found a real partner in life, someone who celebrates my choices and supports my effort and ambition. Though I feel blessed, I don’t feel lucky. I don’t think of love as being discovered, fated, or completely up to chance. I think of love as a choice and a habit. I choose to love him, and I choose to love my work.
I appreciate my parents much more now that I have children of my own – my parents had almost sainted levels of patience to have kept their cool as much as they did! Even so, I know my path to and through motherhood is more comfortable than my mother’s was and her mother’s was before her. My mother didn’t have a choice but to work, and she didn’t have many options on what her work would be (she stopped going to school at age eight). By contrast, I know the time I take away from my children and partner has to be meaningful enough to warrant the opportunity cost. My work as an engineer adds to society and saves lives. I choose to be a working mother.
I am proud of the work I do and the person I am. My life made me for this.
My work made me for this. I made me for this.