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Winning Essays 2013 > Emily


Winning Essay: Emily Veale

Why I’m Getting My Major at NVC - To Reach Milestones 

EmilyI have always been fascinated by how things work.

Case in point: When I was 6 years old, my grandmother gave me a doll. "To practice for when you're a grownup," she said. I had no idea what that meant. All I knew was that I was itching to see how that doll's eyelids flipped open when you lifted its head. I discovered the answer by trial and error, and to my mom's chagrin after she found a myriad of doll parts on my bedroom floor and little me happily flipping the secret switch that made the doll's eyes fly open. This experience not only opened the doll’s eyes; it opened mine.

Dismantling dolls is not what society expects little girls to do, nor does it expect for them to grow up and be engineers: to solve infrastructure problems; to be welders of the world. Case in point: Only about 20% of engineering degrees are given to women.  That’s a recent statistic, and it’s an abysmal number. Social strides have been taken to dismantle this issue, including efforts to involve more girls and women in math camps. The amount of women in science, technology and math fields increases each year at a slow pace. It’s hard to defeat attitudes concerning gender roles that have been the norm for years.

I don’t care. Despite the male-steeped environment, I look forward to every math and engineering class at NVC, and, in defiance of what is defined as normal, I enjoy understanding concepts before my male classmates. I’m in my first year of engineering at Northwest Vista College, and I strongly believe that this school is a rich, practical environment abounding with resources for curious minds like myself. In my Precalculus class, I’ve observed how innocent-looking formulas not only transform a graph, but can additionally transform the way I view something as simple as a swinging pendulum. During a recent event for Math-Intensive Majors, I was enlightened and encouraged by the speaker, a really cool 60-something math major and Northwest Vista professor who, with a white-board and a marker, demonstrated more shortcuts and general mathematical artistry with numbers than I ever thought possible. In the NVC math lab, I’m reassured that I will understand that pesky problem – I can do it - I just have to calm down, look at it from another angle, and not give up. Ever.

I’m a female engineering major, and the fact that less than a fifth of engineering majors are women isn't going to stop me from achieving my dreams. I’m not going to give up on my goals of engineering new solutions for a cleaner planet – not to mention scoring a big victory for the underrepresented women in science. That’s why I’m getting my major at NVC.