Pullman Scholar Alumna Valarie King-Bailey, University of Wisconsin – Madison, ’82, summed up the importance of engineers perfectly, “look around you, everything around you is courtesy of an engineer.” The air we breathe, the roads we travel on, the water we drink; an engineer has done something with it. With that in mind, the Foundation is proud of the 13% of Pullman Women in STEM (around 250) who study or studied some type of engineering. We have seven current female engineer scholars, and we are excited to see where their studies take them.

There are four main branches of engineering with hundreds of specialties. Pullman Women have majored in around 18 different types of engineering; chemical (52), general (47), mechanical(23), and industrial engineering (19) having the most. According to the National Science Board, the areas of engineering with the most women are environmental engineers (38% of full workforce), chemical engineers (23%), and civil/architectural/sanitary (18%).

Stay tuned this week for a three-part podcast series featuring current scholar Julissa Garcia, University of Illinois at Chicago, ’18, interviewing Valarie King-Bailey. They talk about what it’s really like to be a female engineer. If you are in the engineering field and are a member of the Pullman Scholar Community, please contact Katie Desir to share your story.

Listen to episode one of three Women in Engineering podcast, “An Intro Into a Profession With Great Impact,” here.

Listen to episode two of three Women in Engineering podcast, “A Real Account of Being a Female Engineer,” here.

Listen to episode three of three Women in Engineering podcast, “What It Takes to Be a Success,” here.

Even though studies show both genders have the same abilities in science, a 2016 study from Colorado State University says women are more likely than men to get discouraged by a particular math class and give up on their dream of a career in science. Pullman Foundation women in science are challenging that statistic, though! There are almost 1,400 female scientists in the Pullman Scholar Community (72% of all our STEM majors).

Our Pullman Scholars and Alumnae are neuroscientists, nurses, chemists, research associates, cytogenetic technologists and more! They are a part of the 35.2% of female chemists, 11.1% of female physicists and astronomers, and 48% of female biological, agricultural, and environmental life scientists nationwide. They are the ones that want to find cures, learn how the world works, are treating our families, and trying to save the environment.

Science courses and labs are notorious for being difficult, but we have 30 current female Pullman Scholars (75% of all our female STEM majors) taking them right now and maintaining their 3.0+ GPAs. This week you’ll  meet some of them and learn about some of the organizations they are a part of or follow. Science on!

Read Life as a Biochemistry Major here.

Read Life as a Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience and Psychology Major here.

Read Life as a Biology Major here.

Get to know one of the George M. Pullman Educational Foundation’s graduating seniors, Jasmeen Wellere. Wellere attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and earned a 4.0 GPA throughout her entire college career.

Major: Social Work

Minor: Pre-Law

The Foundation: Last time we heard from you, you were sharing your experience at ScholarCon last year. What lessons from the event are you still using?

Jasmeen: I learned tons of useful lessons at ScholarCon, but the main things I’ve implemented are bringing a sense of community to the student organizations I am a part of and reminding myself to face adversity head on.

To bring a sense of community to the organizations I’m an active member of, — Student Social Work Association (SSWA), SIUE Black Girls Rock, the Vice Chancellor’s Office’s SIUE 1st Generation program — I have encouraged hosting more social events for their members. For example, I helped develop an SSWA Social event at Edison’s Entertainment Complex. This helped our members and their family and friends have a chance to mix, mingle, and have fun. We raised about $500, which will be dispersed amongst several of our charity efforts.

One prominent thing that I have recognized is nearly every student faces adversity. When the motivational speaker at ScholarCon said to “face adversity head on,” that really stuck with me. I was struggling to get my E-Guarantee scholarship back at the time (which had been taken away because of budget cuts at SIUE). As I boarded the plane to ScholarCon, I was on the phone with a financial aid advisor at SIUE and I had been communicating with them for a month prior. I was almost ready to give up, but hearing the stories of adversity from students working just as hard as me and getting the bit of reassurance for the speaker made me want to keep pushing for the funds that I deserved.

A couple of weeks after ScholarCon, I was able to get people at my internship (at the Office of the Inspector General for DCFS) to help me advocate to regain my scholarship. Luckily, they were able to assist me and I regained my scholarship before the semester began. Consequently, I always tell students that there will be challenges and failures, but they must never give up. Always advocate for yourself and develop allies along the way.

What’s been your greatest accomplishment this school year, outside and inside the classroom?

During the spring semester, I was chosen for an undergraduate research assistantship position. I consider this an outstanding accomplishment because I am completing research with the director of the bachelors of social work program. She was one of my most challenging professors that I have encountered at college.

My main accomplishment outside of the classroom, is I have been accepted into three graduate social work programs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and Loyola University in Chicago. UIUC has offered me a tuition waiver for two of the three semesters I will have to complete. (more…)

By Jasmeen Wellere, Pullman Scholar.

“ScholarCon was one of the best experiences I have ever had!” This is what my National Collegiate Scholars chapter president, Jamal Sims, explained to us during my first chapter meeting. I was somewhat exposed to ScholarCon through a flood of emails when I joined the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) as a freshmen and I just wrote it off as spam mail. During Jamal’s presentation about ScholarCon is when it became “real” to me and not just a stream of emails. As our chapter became more active I began to seriously consider ScholarCon as an event I wanted to attend.

Unfortunately, the cost was overwhelming and our fundraising attempts failed, so I had to cross ScholarCon off my to-do list. It was disappointing, but my thought was that “there’s always next year.” Surprisingly, that opportunity resurfaced sooner than I expected! I received an email from Robin Redmond, executive director of the George M. Pullman Educational Foundation, stating that they were able to fund a trip for two Pullman Scholars to attend ScholarCon. I was flabbergasted and I just knew it was meant for me to go—I mean, what are the odds that this could be happening to me twice? I replied immediately and just prayed that I would be chosen. (more…)

Billy Leung, Pullman Scholar, University of Michigan, ’16

In my senior year of high school, I remember being constantly stressed trying to figure out how I was going to afford a college education. Thankfully, my high school counselor told me about the Pullman Foundation. With the Pullman Foundation’s generosity and support, I’m glad to say that I have just completed my junior year at the University of Michigan.

The support I’ve received from the Pullman Foundation has been more than just financial assistance; the Pullman Foundation has also provided the resources to help me succeed in and outside the classroom, manage my time effectively, and reach my career aspirations. In addition to using the many resources on the Pullman Foundation’s website, e-mails, LinkedIn blogs, and Facebook page, I had the opportunity to attend the Pullman Scholar Symposium, where I got to meet other Pullman Scholars and Pullman Alumni.

At the symposium, I attended a personal finance crash course, where I learned the intricacies of creating a personal budget, saving for retirement, and building credit. There was also an etiquette seminar, where I was able to learn proper networking and eating etiquette. This came in handy as I had to attend networking events and dinners during my internship search this past fall. Finally, I was able to listen to a panel of four Pullman Alumni speak about their experiences from college to their current careers. After listening to the panel, I was surprised (and relieved!) to learn that life really has a strange way of working out. Some of the alumni ended up in careers related to their college majors while other alumni ultimately ended up in positions completely unrelated to their college majors. The Pullman Alumni taught me that it’s okay to not have the future completely planned out. (more…)

Bonnie Miller, the Foundation’s board president, was featured as March 2015’s Remarkable Woman in the Chicago Tribune. Read the full article here.

“Before Bonnie became president, we were doing good work,” said Robin Redmond, the foundation’s executive director. “But she had the foresight to see a greater potential. Now, we can help more students.” Bonnie Miller is a hands-on president, she added, known in the boardroom as “a sharp cookie with a wicked sense of humor.”