SWE Scholar: Catherine Ninah
Read as Society of Women Engineers (SWE) meets SWE Scholar: Catherine Ninah. We'll find out what scholarship she was awarded, what she used it for and how SWE has impacted her and her experience as a female engineer thus far in life.
Q: What scholarship were you awarded?
A: I was awarded the Boeing Scholarship.
Q: How long have you been a SWE member?
A: I've been a SWE member since my freshman year at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
Q: What were your goals in pursuing this scholarship?
A: In pursuing this scholarship, I hoped to acquire financial assistance and engineering support. The scholarship support helps me excel in academics, serve the community and be involved in extracurricular activities rather than focus on the financial aspect of my college education.
Q: How did you specifically use the scholarship?
A: I used the scholarship money for my tuition. I study Industrial Engineering and have a minor in mathematics.
Q: Did the scholarship impact you beyond the financial?
A: Yes, the scholarship was beneficial to me in many ways. The people associated with the company were inspirational and I was grateful that they would be included in my network. I was also invited to have a tour of one of their sites which I am looking forward to. With less financial stress, I am also able to use my time and resources mentoring other females interested in STEM careers.
Q: What if you hadn’t received the SWE scholarship?
A: If I did not receive a SWE scholarship, I may not have met these influential people who have motivated me. For financial reasons, I would need to work more hours and dedicate less to serving my university. I have contributed in positions such as Vice President of Engineers Without Borders, Volunteer Student Director of a Student Government Association Agency and SWE Mentor, providing support and advice to engineers. Additionally, I am able to conduct cutting edge engineering research and share at different conferences such as Clinton Global Initiatives, National Science Foundation REU Symposium, American Association for the Advancement of Science Catalyzing Advocacy in Sciences and Engineering and Florida’s Day at the Capitol.
If I did not receive a SWE scholarship, I may not have met these influential people who have motivated me.
Q: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a current applicant?
A: I would first congratulate them in joining women who are engineering and changing the future. My advice would be to pay your success forward. I believe success comes from actively setting goals and identifying your achievements and development opportunities, with the help of mentors. While you continue to advance even in the face of obstacles, I would remind you to share your story, lessons learned, talents and skills with the community to facilitate the next generation of leaders and engineer a better tomorrow. Your decision on what to do with your accomplishments will speak loudly in your application.
Q: What is your all-time favorite SWE moment?
A: My favorite event would be attending the SWE15 Conference in Nashville, TN this past year. I met amazing friends from both my university chapter and chapters all over the nation. I also interviewed with and met female engineers at several prestigious companies. It was exciting to be at an event with so many people who were or had been in your same shoes. My current summer internship was also a result of attending WE15.
It was exciting to be at an event with so many people who were or had been in your same shoes.
Q: How has being a SWE member impacted you, at the collegiate/career level and personally?
A: Being a SWE member in my freshman year further validated my interest in becoming an engineer. For instance, meeting SWE chapter and professional members at the UCF Fall Banquet was a great way to seek mentorship, create a network and understand recommended opportunities. With the SWE workshops, conferences, and guest speakers, I have received multiple internship offers and had the chance to learn about the latest discoveries and innovations in engineering. UCF’s SWE focus on engineering outreaches has encouraged me to actively serve the community and facilitate groups of people to volunteer. Having mentors who are female engineering professor, I am a more effective and well-rounded engineer who is able to mentor others seeking a similar path.
Q: If you could give your high-school-self one piece of advice on studying engineering in college, what would it be?
A: My one piece of advice would be to explore opportunities and not place any limits on them regardless of the challenges or difficulties I may encounter. Turn challenges into opportunities. Explore different engineering groups (Recommend SWE), teaching opportunities, internships, fields of study to apply your skills like interdisciplinary, research areas, technologies, workshops, skill sets, classes, study locations, parts off / on campus, charitable organizations and leadership roles.