An Open Letter to My Mom, My Inspiration

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms who, like my mother, inspire their children and carry more than their own weight every single day. We appreciate you and all the women who came before you. Your example makes us stronger than you will ever know. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
An Open Letter to My Mom, My Inspiration

This letter was written by SWE member Catherine Martsolf to her mother and fellow SWE member, Carol Martsolf.


This Mother’s Day, I wanted to write an open letter of appreciation to my mother, a civil engineer who raised me single-handedly. She is, and has always been, a shining beacon of hope and a prominent role model for me, my peers, and fellow SWEsters.

My mother, Carol Martsolf, attended engineering school at a time when women were only 10% of the graduating classes (and today that percentage is still very low). When my father left, exactly as her own father had, she was just four years into her career and was a brand-new mother. She confidently powered through our struggles while balancing career and family, and never once let her balance fail.  While leaning on my grandmother to help watch me on late nights when she had meetings, she served as President for two professional engineering organizations and nurtured diversity at her company by starting a women’s professional network with one of her female colleagues. She also managed to run four marathons while serving organizations, growing in her career, and being a single mom. She did all this while maintaining her balance, showing love to both herself and me.  She taught me a very powerful lesson. She took this very large, daunting, responsibility on her own shoulders and made it beautiful, just as her mother had. While I took many trips to her office, probably more than most children on their days off school, she always engaged with me about engineering. Watching her never let anything stop her, from growing professionally as a female engineer and becoming a licensed PE to valuing her friendships with her peers, was a true privilege. Sitting back and seeing her excel when she had more responsibilities than her counterparts proved to me that anything is possible with hard work. She has always embodied the SWE mission in my eyes.

It is because of her I saw a sanctuary in engineering and champion diversity in the discipline. I ended up joining SWE in college, and became President of my collegiate section. She is now serving on countless committees in engineering organizations and continues to excel in her career as a Vice President at her company.

So, to her, I want to say this:

Mom, thank you for doing all you possibly could. Thank you for powering through the hard times to give us a better life. You are resolute and unswerving, the Lorelai Gilmore to my Rory. Your commitment has inspired not only me but everyone around you. I know I may not understand the full extent of your selflessness, but I hope you know exactly how proud and lucky I am to have you. You can move mountains.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms who, like my mother, inspire their children and carry more than their own weight every single day. We appreciate you and all the women who came before you. Your example makes us stronger than you will ever know. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

An Open Letter to My Mom, My Inspiration
From left: Catherine Martsolf, mother Carol Martsolf, and grandmother Nelsa Widger.
  • Meghan says:

    As another engineer raised by a single mom, I loved this article! Thank you for sharing your story.