What struggles did you face?

Hello there,
My name is Jessica. I am from Los Angeles, CA, and I am a second-year engineering student. I am the first in my family to attend college, and I also come from a low income family. For me being an engineering student has been difficult, because I cant find the right balance to keep up with my school work and study. I have horrible study habits. I tend to get distracted a lot. I know I want to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering just like you have, and I want to emphasize in Structural Engineering. My question is what hardship did you have to face in order to to be where you are at right now? What advice would you give me in order to get there? Many people in my family question my decision of becoming an engineer because they also say "It's for boys not girls" But I find engineering to be very empowering for girls. Obtaining a degree in any field of engineering shows that girls can do the same thing boys can and even better. People should not underestimate us. SO in other words I want to prove people wrong. I just hope that one day I can accomplish my dream like you have.
Thank you for taking the time in reading this and I hope to hear from you soon.
posted by Jessica, Los Angeles, Ca on October 21, 2013

Answer by Melanie Cragnolin

Hi Jessica!

So lovely to hear from you.

Sounds like we have a similar background.  You are born an engineer.  I sincerely believe that.  It calls to you.  You either have it, or you don't.  And if you have made it to your second year, you are almost there!  The first two years of undergrad engineering are like boot camp.  It is not for the faint of heart or mind.  

You mention you have horrible study skills.  Are you a procrastinator?  Do you doubt yourself?  Then you have classic engineering symptoms ;)

One of the most important things you can do is focus!  Women are famous at multitasking.  Engineering requires multitasking with focus.  That means no phone calls, no emails, no personal problems, no money problems.  Focus on the problem at hand.  Otherwise your engineering brain will travel in multiple directions and spin wheels instead of moving forward.
 
Do not listen to anyone but your heart.  Again, you are born an engineer.  You have made it this far.  First rule of Structural Engineering:  Have a STRONG foundation.  Do not let any one or thing dissuade you.  

My four year old daughter only knows her mommy to be an "engineer."  Once, we were watching "Dexter's Laboratory" and I tried to explain that Dexter was an "engineer."  My four year old said, "boys are not engineers.  Only girls are engineers."  That's all she knows about engineering.  Perspective is everything.

Hang in there...I am here to help and support you.