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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.
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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 on SWE Core Values []

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.