Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) has developed a new pilot program for women of color in STEM sophomores and juniors at the University. The Career Preparation Program (CPP) aims to provide these students with opportunities and resources for developing…
Q&A with Sareta Gladson: 2018 SMART Scholar
Sareta Gladson, a freshman aerospace engineering major in the College of Engineering and Computer Science from San Pedro, California, and a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, was recently named a recipient of a Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The award will fully fund her tuition for her remaining years of college; provide her with an annual stipend of $25,000; provide her with mentorship through a DoD sponsoring facility; guarantee summer internships at a DoD-connected institution every year she is an undergraduate; and guarantee her employment placement within the DoD or at a DoD-connected institution after graduation. Gladson will be required to work for the DoD for at least four years as part of the conditions of the award. She answered some questions about her studies and the scholarship.
01How did you hear about the SMART Scholarship? What was the application process like?
I heard about the SMART Scholarship through the Honors Office, specifically my honors advisor, Naomi Shanguhyia. I worked very closely with Jolynn Parker, the director of the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA), to apply to the program. It involved a lot of revising my essays to refine my point. I also researched a lot to figure out where I wanted to work and what I wanted to do.
02You are studying aerospace engineering. What inspired you to work to become an engineer?
I come from a family of scientists. I grew up surrounded by science, whether it was from my parents, who are both geologists, or my grandfather, who is a retired high school physics teacher. There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to become a STEM major when I reached college. My interest in aerospace engineering, however, came from a program called StellarXplorers, the National High School Aerospace Competition. The team I was on went to finals twice (in 2016 and in 2017) and we earned the national title in 2017. Everything I’ve learned about managing the risks of space flight comes from competing in StellarXplorers.
03You will work for a DOD-connected institution after graduation. Where do you think you might like to work?
I will intern and work for the Space and Missiles System Center (SMC) at the LA Air Force Base in El Segundo, California. I got this assignment after an interview with the point of contact at SMC, as the award is specific to your placement site.
04What advice would you give to younger girls who think they might like to pursue a degree in engineering (or a STEM field).
I think the most important part about being a woman in STEM is to never stop chasing. For me, I like to say I chase satellites because that is what I’ve found an interest in. Look for things you enjoy doing and take them further. Only two things limit how far you can go: your curiosity and your willingness to pursue.