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Society of Women Engineers

Penny Wirsing on SWE Core Values

We’re asking SWE members how they’ve experienced SWE’s Core Values of integrity, inclusive environment, mutual support, professional excellence, and trust.

Published On: March 2017

We’re asking SWE members how they’ve experienced SWE’s Core Values of integrity, inclusive environment, mutual support, professional excellence, and trust.

Penny Wirsing
Environmental Engineer
SWE Fellow, Professional Life Member

What is your most memorable moment in SWE? 
I remember attending my very first Society Conference a couple years after I graduated from college, and I can still feel the absolute awe I felt being surrounded by all the intelligent, powerful, accomplished, professional women… and realizing that I was one of them!

penny wirsingCan you please provide an example of when SWE has provided a welcoming/inclusive environment? 
Throughout my career I have moved all over the country, from Michigan State University where I went to college (Go Green!), to southeastern Washington State, to south Florida, to northern Virginia, to southern California.  In every area, I have used my SWE relationships to quickly make connections and become grounded.

When I graduated from college and accepted a job across the country, it was a HUGE change for me.  I had a young daughter and it was a really big deal to move away from all my family to a place where we knew absolutely no one.  I can honestly say that the SWE section in Southeastern Washington played a big part in making that a successful transition.  Wanda Munn took me under her wing and made me feel at right at home.  The early exposure I had to her as a role model and her involvement in SWE has stayed with me over the years, and I credit her mentoring and encouragement for my continued active participate in SWE.

What do you see as a benefit of your SWE membership? 
SWE has given me so many opportunities to learn and test out new leadership skills.  From speaking in front of a room, to leading a group, to dealing with difficult people :-); I’ve had the chance to learn from trainings and from other members, and then to put those learnings into practice in a non-threatening (and non-career-limiting) environment.

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