January 25, 2017
“You are not only extremely beautiful, but intelligent beyond what you even recognize.”
I wish someone had shared these words with me as a girl growing up. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York by a single immigrant mother, more things seemed pressing than the need for positive affirmations. I was always told that hard work was inevitable for success and that good company was essential for good character so that was my focus throughout my adolescence.
After the grueling process of studying for the New York Specialized High School Exam, I passed and attended Brooklyn Technical High School where I was first exposed to the world of S.T.E.M. Once a junior, you were required to select a major and I remember wanting to do anything that allowed me to create. Not just to create, but to work for my creation by problem solving. The only major that allowed me to do that was Civil Engineering. Within this High School level major, I learned how to calculate beam loads, understand the physics behind why things stand up (or fall down), and even learn about architecture. I went on to study Civil Engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and after my first internship with Turner Construction, changed my major to Construction Management.
From where I am now, in looking back on those experiences, I almost forget that I was the only female in most of these STEM courses. That wasn’t easy! Whenever I didn’t get an answer right in class, or didn’t get the grade I wanted, it was so much easier for those things to be attributed to me being a female rather than being human. Imagine getting more reactions from a bad hair day than a bad grade!
Being female in a male-dominated industry, most of the times the cards are stacked against you. You must constantly remind yourself that you are where you are because you deserve it, and that your beauty is a marvelous quality, but what’s in your head is infinitely more exceptional.
I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed with mentors who have encouraged me to keep my head high and come to the [executive] table with confidence! That inspiration certainly came in handy the many times throughout my career when I was the only female on a construction site. I learned that there’s no good in ignoring the fact that you’re a female – the best thing to do is embrace it! Womanhood should be worn proudly! I always told myself that if I could find a pink construction hat, I would totally rock it.
As I start my new role in Real Estate and Location Strategy with a new firm, I am so proud to take all my engineering and construction experience with me. I eagerly await the opportunities and successes that will come my way. When the face of intimidation or defeat even merely shows its face, I combat it with the understanding that because I am woman, I CAN.
Remember, we are powerful beyond measure and have all that it takes to thrive, to excel, to compete and to WIN. If no one has told you already, you are not only extremely beautiful, but intelligent beyond what you even recognize.
Strategy & Operations Consultant