I am honored to be one of the fantastic SWE leaders to receive the Outstanding Collegiate Member award this year at WE15! This is my first SWE award at the Society-level and I can’t tell you how much it means to me. I have been involved in SWE since I started college (a whopping 9 years ago!). I first was active as an undergraduate at the Purdue section and took on three different leadership roles, culminating in Vice President my senior year. SWE was one of the factors I considered when deciding on graduate school. I knew that the University of Texas at Austin had a strong SWE collegiate section, and I was incredibly happy to find out that it had a thriving graduate student committee. I became active in the UT-Austin GradSWE and soon took on leadership roles there as well. This led me to becoming active at the Region-level, and ultimately on the Graduate Community leadership team as Region Conference Coordinator and then as Graduate Member Coordinator.
I tell you all of this because I want to paint a picture of how SWE helped shaped my leadership experience throughout college as well as how SWE was there for me in each of the phases of my life. Each of my leadership positions taught me more and more about how SWE operates at each level – section, region, and society. I have found that as I grew professionally and as a leader, I was able to make more and more of a difference in each of these levels of SWE. This then helped me gain access to more fantastic role models and mentors helping me to grow further.
As I mentioned, I joined SWE as a freshman entering college. At first, I didn’t even know what it was (gasp!) and only joined because I had received a scholarship. As I got more involved in my collegiate section I saw the value in the organization and seized all the opportunities SWE gave me – leadership positions, conferences, networking, etc. As an undergraduate, my collegiate section was also a majority of my friends on campus. Webinars and sessions at the regional and annual conferences were what inspired me to finish my degree and pursue graduate school. It was at WE09 that I talked to graduate schools who told me if I paid for graduate school myself then I was “doing it wrong.” This simple statement is what gave me the courage to negotiate with my preferred graduate schools for funding.
As a graduate student, webinars and conference sessions instilled in me the knowledge that I could finish my PhD and successfully transition to the workforce. I found a community within SWE of like-minded and driven people (you all!) who become each other’s cheerleaders when times get tough (cough quals cough), providing support and resources as necessary. And now that I’ve graduated and almost transitioned to the workforce, I look forward to SWE webinars, sessions, and events which help me find a balance between succeeding at work, family, and personal happiness.
The women I meet through all these events inspire me to continue driving down this course I set myself on, but I could not have done it without all the different groups of SWE people who have gotten me to where I am now. So, the point of all this is what SWE means to me: SWE offers personal and professional development for any stage of life. I have dedicated a lot of my time and energy to SWE because I love the organization and what it offers its members, for all life and career stages. I am honored to be recognized for this dedication as an Outstanding Collegiate Member, and I strongly suggest others nominate themselves or work with a friend to nominate you next year! Need someone to nominate you? Ask me – firstname.lastname@example.org!
Check out the other fantastic Outstanding Collegiate Member award recipients: http://alltogether.swe.org/articles/swe-announces-annual-awards-program-recipients/
You may be asking yourself, so how do I get involved in SWE? Check out my prior post on this topic: https://swegrad.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/how-to-get-involved-in-swe-as-a-graduate-student/