Julie Greenfield, Professional Engineer, HDR, Mahwah, New Jersey
HQ: What scholarship were you awarded?
JG: Society of Women Engineers - Greater Syracuse Area Section Scholarship
HQ: Tell us a little bit about the section that awarded you the scholarship. How did they impact your overall career and experience as a SWE member?
JG: The section has awarded $100,000 worth of scholarships in the Syracuse, NY area over the last 20 years. I was encouraged by my high school calculus teacher to apply. I have always loved math and science but I didn’t always know I could be an engineer. Someone judging the scholarships saw something in me, and that boost made all the difference. The scholarship truly motivated me to pursue engineering. Before the awards reception, I didn’t know a single female engineer. Afterwards, I realized there is a large network, and they believed in me. It was such an honor. I am a SWE member now because of this experience and I hope to inspire others as I was.
Why She Joined SWE
HQ: How long have you been a SWE member?
JG: I was a member in college, took a break, then got back on track and I've officially been a professional SWE member for about a year and a half.
HQ: What were your goals in pursuing this scholarship?
JG: I applied because I was interested in studying civil and environmental engineering. I rowed crew on Onondaga Lake, one of the most polluted lakes in the country, and I wanted to help restore its natural beauty and function. I realized with engineering I could apply my passion for math, science, and the environment to projects within the community.
HQ: How did you specifically use the scholarship?
JG: The scholarship helped pay for tuition and text books.
HQ: Did the scholarship impact you beyond the financial?
JG: The financial aspect was a big part of it, and that was the reason I applied. However, the larger impact was the empowerment I received, and I didn’t fully understand this until later on.
HQ: What if you hadn’t received the SWE scholarship?
JG: I may not be an engineer today! Seriously.
HQ: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a current applicant?
JG: Apply! I’m glad someone encouraged me to (thanks, Mr. Stedman!). Be honest and show what your passions are. Don’t be discouraged if you do not win. Look for other scholarship opportunities. And pursue engineering anyway – that is the ultimate prize.
HQ: What is your all-time favorite SWE moment?
JG: Getting to know some of my female coworkers better and meeting SWE members from all over the region at the 2015 SWE Region i Conference and career fair in Kansas City. Meeting eager graduating seniors looking for jobs and women returning to the workforce after taking time off to raise a family. It was a great atmosphere.
HQ: How has being a SWE member impacted you, at the career level and personally?
JG: It has helped me realize the importance of developing a deeper network of female engineers. We need to keep encouraging each other and lifting one another up.
HQ: If you could give your college self one piece of advice on studying engineering in college, what would it be?
JG: Take full advantage of and try to learn as much as possible from your professors. Look into research opportunities with them. They have great experience and are tremendous resources.