Once when I was in middle school, I told my father I couldn't do math because I was a girl. Girls weren’t made to be as smart as boys, and we sure couldn’t do math. My Dad was livid! He refused to allow me to believe that, and spent the following hour informing me that a woman could do anything, especially math and assisted me in finishing my homework. I spent the next six years sprinting through science and math classes eager to learn and prove my value, I was good, I could do it, and I knew it.
Flash forward to finals at the end of 4/c year, I walk out of my Calculus II final in tears, praying for a high enough grade to squeak by so I would not have to come back for summer school. I sit down at my computer with relief, only to log on and open up an email from my Calculus II teacher addressed to myself and my company officer. I had passed my final, but I had only passed the class by the skin of my teeth. The email on my grade could be boiled down to one heart wrenching statement.
"Suggest you consider a major other that engineering with the effort you’re putting in now."
I was destroyed, I had only just switched my major to civil engineering and it was all I wanted to do, it spoke to me. This email haunted me through my third class summer, followed me through every watch on Eagle and Dauntless, and on the train ride back home. The second my Mother picked me up from the train station I begged her to bring me to the bookstore. I bought a Calculus for Dummies book and got down to work. Every day I watched how-to calculus video and pushed my way through every problem in that book. There were four weeks until I started Multivariable Calculus and I was going to go into that class guns blazing.
It took almost losing what I wanted to realize how hard you have to work to have it and stay at the Academy. I took that email statement with me to class every day, it no longer haunted me; it was my motivation, my driving force. I worked hard on homework, went for extra help if I needed it, and crushed every test that came across my desk. Like Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.”
I can only now reflect on how important these events were, to have led me to my current station, a female Civil Engineering student, having passed the FE standing on the edge of graduation knowing that only 100% effort will get you what you want, no matter who or what you are.
More about Emily.