Transitioning from high school to college was a thrilling yet nerve wracking experience. I was overwhelmed by all the new changes that were happening very rapidly from juggling with extracurriculars and all of my courses and learning how to manage my time as a college student. Needless to say, I ended up feeling alone in the beginning and thought I was the only one struggling. It was not until I fully immersed myself into the opportunities offered and amazing community at Rutgers that I truly felt I belonged at the school. I had access to various resources from the School of Engineering(SOE) and Douglass Residential College(DRC) which helped me become more confident academically and socially.
The Reilly Douglass Engineering Living Learning Community(RDELLC) allows students to live with other undergraduate women pursuing engineering at Mattia Hall on Busch Campus. Being a part of this community has given me a new perspective on my college experience and has brought me endless opportunities. Having people to turn to for support on my floor allowed me to thrive and step out of my comfort zone. We would grab meals together, study for classes, and even find fun events to attend to help us destress. One of my favorites was pumpkin decorating for Halloween. We even had our own Introduction to Engineering class, where we learned about all the majors SOE has to offer. During one of the classes, I was able to conduct a faculty interview with Dr. Susan Albin, where she gave me a firsthand look at the Industrial and Systems Engineering department. She told me all about the different industries she has worked in previous years. After that conversation, I realized I wanted to be an ISE major.
During winter break of my freshman year, I participated in an externship program through the BOLD center, where I was able to connect with industry professionals and get a firsthand look at how expectations and deadlines translate into the workforce. The mentors I met through RDELLC gave me advice on how to leave a memorable first impression on paper and in person, which gave me the confidence to attend career fairs and also apply for various leadership positions. I took an Introduction to Scientific Research course my spring semester freshman year, where I learned about reading and writing scientific papers. From there, I got into the Project SUPER program, which is a research opportunity specifically targeted for undergraduate women in STEM. I was fortunate enough to work in a laboratory last summer that was funded from a research grant, and I was able to produce my own research project. I presented my work at the Project SUPER Research Symposium last fall. Now that I’m a sophomore, I’m serving as the STEM Academic Leader for RDELLC and helping current freshmen navigate the resources that SOE and Douglass has to offer. The intersection between my experiences as a Douglass woman and an Industrial and Systems engineer is a busy one, and I’m eternally grateful for the experiences I have had so far. I can’t wait for what’s next for me during my time here at Rutgers!
-Vani ISE ‘23