I entered Howard University as a biology major, but after my first semester, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself more. I coupled my love for math and science and changed my major to chemical engineering. As a woman, and particularly a black woman, I often heard that S.T.E.M careers were not made for me. This is completely false! I have proven to myself and others that I am equipped with the knowledge and dedication to perform just as well as my peers.
That being said, chemical engineering has been a tough major. I have many difficult days, but my family—particularly my five younger siblings—drive my passion. As the eldest sibling, I strive to do my best because I know that I am their role model. I want them to see that even if I make mistakes, if I work harder afterwards and welcome failure as a part of the process, nothing is impossible.
When my family cannot be there to encourage me, my Lean In Circle is like my family away from home. My Circle consists of a small group of my peers at Howard University. It is part of the Computer Science & Engineering (CS&E) Student Chapter run by LeanIn.Org. We meet regularly to learn and grow together. As a Lean In Circle Leader, I have learned a great deal about our members’ stories and aspirations. They’ve helped me open up to the people around me and feel less alone. Because of my Circle, I feel more comfortable speaking in front of small and large crowds.
People sometimes ask if I have any tips for running a successful Circle. Here’s what I’ve learned from my Circle:
- Get started with Lean In’s guide to running a Circle, but don’t forget to add your own personal flare so your Circle represents you and your members.
- Create an overall goal with your Circle members. And stick to it!
- View feedback as a gift; welcome feedback from your Circle members and be open to giving feedback whenever it might help another member.
As my Circle and I face challenges and overcome hurdles, I’ve learned that it’s OK to not have every single thing figured out. If I could go back and give my younger self advice, I would tell my younger self to stop freaking out. As long as you put your passion and hard work into everything you do, things will fall into place.
Connect with thousands of CS&E students like Danielle by joining LeanIn.Org’s CS&E Chapter, Facebook Group, and LinkedIn Group.