For high school girls, a day in the life of CSU engineering

High School Shadow Day

High school girls got to live a day in an engineering student’s shoes this month for Stick with SWE, a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) event. Each of the 27 girls in attendance was paired with a female student in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering (and CSU SWE member) and served as a “shadow,” attending classes, visiting campus landmarks, and exploring major-specific labs.

Inspired by a similar event spearheaded by the SWE chapter at California Polytechnic State University, Caley Dallman, a junior in civil engineering, was determined to bring Stick with SWE to CSU.

“Caley was the spirit of the event,” said Theresa O’Donnell-Sloan, a sophomore in civil engineering and fellow SWE member. “She put everything aside and focused on planning.”

SWE leadership, including Dallman and O’Donnell-Sloan, matched up prospective students with CSU students based on major and interest, built a schedule for each attendee, and alerted professors of the high school students’ class visits. SWE members showcased the CSU engineering experience for the duration of the day.

Sharing the CSU experience

Annie Elefante, a junior biomedical and mechanical engineering student and president of CSU SWE, took her shadow, a prospective mechanical engineering student, on a personalized tour.

“I took her to a 100-level class, to Morgan Library, and the machine shop to show her the machines so she could see what she’d be doing if she came to CSU,” she said.

Also part of the event was a welcome reception and student panel, during which the high school students and their parents listened to engineering students of different majors and class levels discuss their CSU experience.

“I said on the panel that SWE probably changed my life,” said O’Donnell-Sloan. “I don’t think I would’ve stuck with engineering if it wasn’t for the community I found here.”

A community among like-minded women

SWE members exemplified their overall objective for the event, which was to encourage the high school students that they are capable of earning a degree in engineering and forming a supportive community through SWE. The success of the event was reflected by the glowing responses from the high school girls in attendance.

“I decided that I will be pursuing a major in engineering at CSU,” said one student. “This event helped me realize that I do have what it takes to be an engineer.”

Another student confirmed, “CSU has jumped to the top of my list because of this event.”

CSU SWE leadership confirms they’ll be holding the event again next year, and are considering running it twice a year instead of annually. Families traveled from all over the state and region to attend.

“College is hard and expensive in terms of money and time,” said Elefante. “But it’s the people beside you that are assets worth the price of admission.”