Going away to college is a big change from living at home for almost 17 years of your life. You have to learn how to feed, cook and clean for yourself. But Asena Yildiz took it one step further and moved from New Jersey across the country to the promise land for all engineers, California.
Asena barely knew anything about Berkeley prior to visiting other than it had a top-ranked engineering program. But when she visited the school, she noticed how at home she felt with the abundance of extracurricular activities and quirkiness. Since starting school at UC Berkeley, Asena has faced many obstacles as well as opportunities making her feel that majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the school was the right decision for her. The warm weather all year round was also a bonus.
As an out-of-state student, she felt it was important to conserve her resources and apply to scholarships to help her financially. She heard about SWE scholarships through SWENext, SWE’s free program for K-12 students. For the past three years of her college experience, she has applied every year to SWE scholarships and received one each time. Prior to her freshman year at Berkeley, she received the New Jersey Section Scholarship. For both her sophomore and upcoming junior year, she has received the SWE Chevron Scholarship.
Each year that Asena applies for a SWE scholarship, she reflects on her growth and accomplishments within SWE. “Because I really care about SWE and the Society is by far my favorite activity in college, being recognized by SWE for my efforts at my section is really impactful for me,” said Asena.
Along with the help of scholarships, Asena is a Resident Assistant in the UC Berkeley Residence Halls which also allows her to reduce the cost of education and housing.
Asena takes her love for SWE to a whole new level as she serves as an officer within her SWE section. This past year, she co-pioneered their involvement with SWE Team Tech, which helped set a foundation for the technical program in their section. In addition to SWE, she’s involved in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as local Co-President this upcoming year, as well as actively participating in CalSol, the school’s Solar Vehicle engineering competition team. She plans to get her master’s in engineering and business administration.
With the help of internships and the clubs offered at her college, Asena hopes to go into something with product design, energy and vehicle engineering such as Automotive or Aerospace.
Asena didn’t always aggressively pursue her interests in engineering. In fact, it wasn’t until her senior year in high school that she joined the FIRST FTC Robotic team at her high school.
“Whenever I tried to get involved with engineering through my computer science or robotics classes, I struggled to believe in my abilities and to find support from my peers. This was possibly the beginning of imposter syndrome, something even accomplished full-time women engineers struggle with,” Asena said.
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internal fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” This is something that is not uncommon with most girls who hope to pursue a career in engineering.
If there’s one thing Asena hopes that she could have told her younger self it was, “Stop thinking you aren’t good enough. You are a capable engineer.” Over time, Asena found her true calling as a future engineer and plans to go great lengths to make sure she gets there.