Hometown: Elkton, MD
What are you currently up to?
Graduate Student at the University of Cincinnati, I am pursuing a Master’s is Urban Planning and a graduate certificate in Data Analytics
How did you get where you are today?Curiosity
What did you do before returning to school?
Before returning to school I worked as a test engineer at Eaton Corporation and an electrical engineer for the Department of Defense. I was out of school for two and half years, I relocated from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia when I changed jobs.
What reason or factors pulled you back to school?
I saw issues and problems around me that couldn’t be resolved with an engineering degree. My desire to impact communities and enact change on a large scale motivated me to return to school. I always knew I would return to school but I was undecided on my area of focus.
Why did you want to get an advanced degree?
As I matured my interests changed and I found myself curious about the world around me, the tangible and intangible aspects. It was never about ‘getting the degree’ but more so becoming informed and knowledgeable.
Would you rather have worked straight through from undergrad to grad school?
Absolutely not, by taking some time off I was able to gain a new perspective, develop different habits, gain professional experience, and save money. Taking a break was beneficial for me, had I gone to graduate school immediately after undergrad I would have studied something unrelated to my interests and purpose. I also had time to read books, that was super critical!!
What was your biggest hurdle in coming back to school?
Moving away from my support system and uncertainty of the future. At my previous job I had a well defined path and I was abandoning that for the unknown. My support system is remote but present and continues to grow, that’s been the biggest blessing.
Do you envision using your EE degree later down the line?
I use my EE degree all the time, engineering is a skill, a set of techniques, a mindset. I apply critical thinking, quantitative analysis, and problem solving to urban systems instead of electrical systems.
What have you learned most about yourself since graduating?
Since graduating I’ve learned that I can do whatever I want, I say that with humility. The perception of an engineer is a double-edged sword, you are perceived as so intelligent that people put you in a box. You (and I) are so smart/hardworking/resourceful we can do whatever we want.
Are you surprised by where you are since graduating?
No, I think the future I had envisioned as an undergrad was fueled by my ego. During my break I had time to reshape my mind and path.
What is one of your biggest goals, professionally or personally?
I recently watched a video on Instagram where Tracee Ellis Ross was on set and she casually asked someone “What day is it?”, it was Tuesday. My goal is the build a life and career where the days of the week are negligible. I want to wake up everyday and do something I love with little response to or regard for the name of the day.
Can you speak on the work/life balance, what that looks like for you, and how it’s different from undergrad?
Between undergrad and grad school the biggest difference for me is that I prioritize personal enrichment and wellness. I more responsive to my own needs and aware of my limitations. My work/life balance is very flexible, when I feel like studying/working I give it my undivided attention. When I don’t want to study/work I’m productive in other ways or I just relax. This practice is constricted by deadlines and business hours.
What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a field different from their undergraduate major once they graduate?
You can do whatever you want. Also, determine if your different interest is a hobby, side hustle, or just something you want to incorporate in your life. Plan ahead, talk to professionals, consider part-time options and other ways to gain experience.
Would you mind leaving contact information for interested students to contact you?