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Society of Women Engineers

SWE Scholarships Helped Future SWE President Jessica Rannow

Learn how SWE Scholarships helped SWE President Elect Jessica Rannow in the early stages of her engineering career.

Published On: November 2015

SWE Scholar Shares: Jessica Rannow

This post marks the first of many monthly blog posts highlighting The Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) Scholarships. We will dive into the members who won them and how they benefited from the SWE scholarships.

First up is FY17 President Elect, Jessica Rannow. SWE HQ caught up with Rannow at WE15 in Nashville, and she got real with us on how SWE’s scholarships assisted her in the early stages of her engineering career.

SWE HQ: How long have you been a SWE member?

JR: 20 years – since Sept 1995

SWE HQ: How has being a SWE member impacted you, professionally and personally?

JR: While so many aspects of my life have changed in the 20 years I’ve been a member, SWE has remained an important part of my life throughout! Some highlights:

The mentorship I had from upperclassman got me through the tough times in engineering school. My passion for mentoring and working with collegiate members stems from this and much of my SWE involvement has been supporting this membership group.

I had my first travel experiences going to SWE conferences during college which has not only taught me how to do business travel, it lead to travel and new adventures being part of my life. SWE has taken me to places I never would have gone on my own and I know it will continue to in the future!

My experience leading without authority in SWE has taught me many lessons as I have progressed in my professional career as an engineer and project manager. It also prepared me when I changed from being a peer to a manager in my career as this is a common occurrence in SWE as leadership roles change from year to year.

From my involvement in section, region, and Society level roles, I have acquired a network of friends and colleagues around the world. I’ve learned so much about different industries, cultures, religions, countries, companies, and more from the diverse group of SWE members! Conferences and meetings are fun; not only is it professional development, each one is a reunion with friends!


SWEscholar selfie, society of women engineersSWE HQ: What Scholarship were you awarded?

JR: I received four scholarships while a student in Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: Outstanding Freshman/Sophomore SWE Member Scholarship, sponsored by endowed funds and HP, Outstanding Junior/Senior SWE Member Scholarship, sponsored by endowed funds and HP, and 2 Section Scholarships sponsored by Kraft and Ford.

The endowed funds are held by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Foundation for the local section.

SWE HQ: What were your goals in pursuing this scholarship?

JR: I personally paid for the majority of my college tuition and fees along with housing/etc. so scholarships were very important towards meeting my financial needs. It reduced the amount of debt I had once I graduated.

SWE HQ: What did the scholarship allow you to do/how did you use the scholarship?

JR: It went directly towards my tuition. One scholarship also included a HP Graphing Calculator which was every 90’s engineering students dream! My junior year I purchased a car to drive to my co-op position in Indiana. Having the scholarship funds allowed me to have enough money to buy groceries and pay my car payments!

SWE HQ: Did the scholarship impact you beyond the financial?

JR: Since two of the scholarships were outstanding SWE member awards, it helped reward my involvement in SWE and my local section. Receiving these scholarships also lead to in part my receipt of two other university scholarships – Outstanding Female Engineering Student and Outstanding Senior Engineering student both in 1999.

SWE HQ: What if you hadn’t received the SWE scholarship?

JR: more loans 🙁

SWE HQ: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a current applicant?

JR: Don’t be afraid to apply! And be sure to apply for both local and Society level scholarships! Be honest and true to your self in your essays; as a scholarship judge the essays that stick out most are ones that truly reflect the applicant’s passion for engineering and service.

As part of our iniative to drive SWE Scholarship awareness, we’ve started the #SWEscholar Selfie campaign on social media. We encourage all SWE scholarship recipients, past and present, to snap a selfie and share your scholarship story on social media. Using the hashtag #SWEscholar … and, who knows! HQ may request to feature your story on this very blog.

SWE HQ: Where was your #SWEscholar selfie snapped?

JR: at We15

Thank you, to Jessica Rannow, for her time on this interview. Want to share your SWE Scholarship story with HQ? Use hashtag: #SWEscholar and snap a selfie of yourself, the scholarship winner, tag SWE on social media, and you may be featured on our HQ social streams.