Surviving Engineering

Surviving Engineering - Surviving Engineering: From a...

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Surviving Engineering: From a Minority Female Perspective Jacquelyn R. Mobley, P.E. Abstract As a practicing female under-represented minority in the field of engineering, I have wonder ed what I could do to he l p in the retention and development of minorit y and women engineering students . I have always felt that I represented a unique perspective as one who has lived through the struggle and survived. This paper highlights my struggles through one of the most respected engineering programs in the country . By using a timeline format, I strive to demonstrate the pitfalls and triumphs along with key turning points which brought an aspiring overachieving high school student to an unsupported struggling undergraduate student with low self esteem and to a successful professional engineer today. Keywords: minority, female, under-represented, professional engineer, diversity PRE-COLLEGE YEARS My name is Jackie Mobley and I am a non-Hispanic Black female. In 1975, I graduated from the newly integrated John I. Leonard High School in Lake Worth, Florida with a 4.2 out of a possible 4.4 GPA. I was a straight “A” student throughout middle and high school having taken honors mathematics (through Pre- Calculus) and science courses the last three years. I was a member of the National Honor Society, a cheerleader and track statistician for all of my middle and high school years. I was also in the 4 -H club and had participated as a Girl Scout from a Brownie to Senior Scout. Family Life I am the first born of three girls, raised solely by my mother, a math middle school teacher working two to three jobs throughout my grade school years. I was an over-achiever who recognized at an early age that I got more attention from my Mom when I brought home good grades. She taught me that hard work would not kill me. It is because of my mother that I never acknowledged the color of a person’s skin. We never had conversations in our home regarding race. From my perspective, it was a non-issue…until I graduated from college. So if anyone treated me unfairly, I didn’t notice. Looking back, it might have happened. But I’ve found that it was to my advantage that I didn’t see color. It kept me from judging others motives. It kept me focused on my studies. I’ve known many minority students who allowed the perceived indiscretions of others to distract them to the point of not completing their educational goals. It never crossed my mind to blame someone else for my difficulties. I thank my Mom and God for putting it in me to retain my innocence for so long. Lack of Guidance One would think that with so much potential, I would have been afforded every opportunity to succeed after I graduated. However, this was not the case. My consistent trips to the Guidance Counselor’s office only left me more confused and anxious with each visit. By the beginning of my senior year, I was so gripped with fear of my unknown future that I dropped out of many of the extra-curricular activities I had
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Surviving Engineering - Surviving Engineering: From a...

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