One of the major themes from Baltimore’s WE Local conference was that women do empower women but not always enough. I was astounded by this claim. Of course I expected some competition amongst female candidates, but I never thought about how cutthroat the hiring process could be. While this may come as a concern to most, I immediately shook it off. I turned to those around me, the amazing young women who accompanied me to the conference, and realized I did not travel with a group of girls scavenging for jobs as if it were the only path to success. In fact, my travel counterparts were quite the opposite. Each of us understood how difficult it can be to be a woman engineer at times. We know that the only way to combat these challenges is to be there for each other. That single realization is what I admire and appreciate so much about my chapter and why it is so important for all women engineers to be part of a network like SWE.
SWE became more than an organization for me. Coming from an all girls high school, I found myself missing the empowering environment that I was used to. But with SWE, I again found myself there. I was brought back to a network of women who inspired each other to be their best every day. Whether it’s advice on how to survive the Walking on Water competition (our Intro to Engineering final project) or a much-needed refresher on breaking forces into components, I rely on my SWE members for every aspect of my academic career. The women of Fairfield University’s SWE chapter are extremely exceptional. From enthusiastic underclassmen to seasoned seniors, I found a group of girls who saw my potential and encouraged me to make the most of it. These girls are not just my peers, but my friends who I turn to for anything—both academically and personally. I have found so much value in my SWE section and only hope that across all of SWE, women are inspiring women to be their best and realize their full potential.
Lilliana is a junior bioengineer at Fairfield University. Along with her involvement in SWE, she is a dedicated member of her university’s chapters of Engineers Without Borders and Biomedical Engineering Society, and a captain of the sailing team. Lilliana hopes to combine her passions for engineering, biomimetics, and sustainability in her future career.