Meet Barbara Kennedy.This Harley-riding, adventurous engineering junior is the president of the UTSA Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
Her philosophy on women in engineering: “When you ask girls what they want to be when they grow up, lots of them say supermodel or actress, and that’s OK. Girly-ness is OK, even in engineering. But, it’s also important for girls to play in the dirt. Part of the problem is that girls don’t grow up knowing what engineering is. It’s problem solving… and girls are good at that.”
Two things Kennedy has always known about herself is that she loves problem solving and she is a natural-born leader.
At age 22, she was managing a horse ranch in Northern California that specialized in long-distance horse racing and luxury vacation rides. In 2010, she took a job in Ireland managing a company that led world visitors on daily pony trekking rides.
After her yearlong gig in Ireland, Kennedy was ready to go back to school. She had tried business at UTSA in 2005, and it didn’t click. However, she loved math, so she re-applied to UTSA in 2011 as an engineering major. This time it clicked.
“Honestly, SWE has been a game-changer for me,” she said. “In engineering, you need to surround yourself with other engineers for support. The young women of SWE have given me that support.”
Kennedy’s level of dedication to SWE has produced tangible results. After volunteering close to 40 hours per week for several months at the beginning of her term in August, the organization now has at least 60 active members, many of whom are dynamic freshmen and sophomores eager to keep up the momentum.
Just in the last month, the young women of SWE helped organize a Women in Engineering Luncheon, partnered with Girls Inc. to host an afternoon of exciting problem-solving challenges for young girls in San Antonio, and participated in Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day in conjunction with UT Austin.
Through SWE, Kennedy has discovered a true passion for inspiring other young women to explore the exciting and innovative life they could lead with a degree in engineering, where the only limit is one’s imagination.
Interested in joining or supporting SWE? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.