By Jordan Moss/College of Engineering
The path to a college degree isn’t always a straight line. And for electrical engineering student Shamariah Jointer the journey took her from the Marine Corps and war on terror, to community college and eventually UTSA. Jointer’s love of engineering goes back to her childhood.
“It all started the summer of fourth grade,” Jointer said. “My mom enrolled me in a summer program that dealt with power tools and construction and that kind of sparked it for me.”
After serving in the Marine Corps, Jointer graduated from the College of San Mateo with an associate degree in math. Earning that degree required persistence and dedication. Jointer was taking calculus by high school but her years spent serving in the Marines had her out of practice.
“When I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and took the college assessment exam the results had me in elementary algebra,” Jointer said. “I had spent so much time in the Marine Corps that I had forgotten most of my upper level math skills.”
Jointer’s counselor at the City College of San Francisco let her know from the on set that the road was not going to be an easy one.
“My counselor said well what do you want to do? And I said I want to go into engineering,” Jointer said. “He said I’m not saying you can’t do it, but it’s going to take a whole lot of work to get you from elementary algebra to transferring to a university.”
After hearing less than a positive assessment, Jointer transferred to the College of San Mateo to be with her brother who was also a Marine Corps veteran. And eight semesters of math later, Jointer had earned her associate in math and was ready to transfer.
“That is my greatest accomplishment,” Jointer said. “I spent all that time working to get back to where I used to be.”
When it came time to transfer Jointer had her eyes set on the Lone Star State.
“When I was at the College of San Mateo I came out to Texas on spring break,” Jointer said. “I was looking for a change and was told Texas is a very veteran friendly state. I visited six or seven colleges in Texas.”
When visiting the UTSA campus one Saturday Jointer said she saw what sold her on coming to San Antonio.
“The diversity,” Jointer said. “I came to the AET building and saw engineering students of various backgrounds studying together and I told my mom this is where I want to come. It’s UTSA for sure.”
Jointer learned to appreciate working with people of varying backgrounds in the Marines. Her time spent in Iraq helped Jointer handle the stresses that come with being a college student by putting them into perspective.
“That experience (the Marines) prepared me for the classroom,” Jointer said. “When we’d get into pressure situations (in the classroom) I wouldn’t panic. I knew I could handle it. It was nothing for me to stay up all night to study and get up early.”
Jointer’s electrical engineering career course changed forever when she made the decision to attend one of UTSA’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career fairs. The first STEM fair Jointer attended didn’t end up the way she wanted and she walked away empty handed. Jointer became determined to not let it happen again.
“I went to my first STEM fair and I got rejected,” Jointer said. “Not because of my grades, because I didn’t have the experience. So I decided the next STEM fair I was going to change my resume, work harder and present myself better. I went to some resume workshops and I went and got an internship with Mortenson Construction.”
Mortenson Construction selected Jointer to work on their Alamo 6 solar project. Located in Pecos County, Texas the 110 MWac utility-scale project is one of the largest in the world. The facility has the power to generate enough renewable energy for approximately 60,000 households per year.
“I was in the design and construction process for building a high voltage substation for the solar farm,” Jointer said. “Sometimes it’s hard to break ground and get your name out there. At UTSA we have so many qualified students. The STEM fair is what changed it for me.”
The internship took Jointer to McCamey and Bakersfield, Texas for work though she stayed in Odessa. Jointer drove 140 miles on her daily commute during her internship. The long drive didn’t make the experience any less enjoyable for Jointer.
“The whole experience pretty much changed my life,” Jointer said. “It gave me the experience I needed on my resume that I didn’t have before.”
Ruyan Guo, a professor of electrical engineering at UTSA, admired the persistence that Jointer displayed.
“She drove 70 miles one way everyday,” Guo said. “It is very hot out there in West Texas in the summer and she never quit. I’m very impressed with her. She maintained her GPA, did an internship and displayed great determination.”
Jointer has been a recipient of NSF SPURS (scholarship program for undergraduates retention and success) scholarship and she made a network of great friends being part of Dr. Guo’s Department of Navy STEM research program.
Despite all the challenges Jointer never wavered in her confidence that she would be successful.
“I knew I could make it,” Jointer said “It was challenging but my belief in God helped me every semester to stay focused. You can’t look too far ahead because it can be discouraging when you look at your degree plan and see all these blank spaces of classes you have to take. I just took it one semester at a time.”
She’s not the only one who believes in her ability to succeed. Guo has no doubts that Jointer will make a positive impact on the engineering world either.
“She’s going to be a great engineering leader in the future,” Guo said. “Her qualities really shine through.”