SAC Students Establish Society of Women Engineers Chapter on Campus
After a long and rigorous application process, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) student group at San Antonio College has joined the national SWE organization as an official collegiate section. The SAC SWE section is one of only two community college chapters in a four-state region that encompasses Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi.
Madeline Wrzesinski, a SAC student studying software engineering, is president of the SWE chapter. She said that much hard work went into getting chartered. "It's harder for a two-year college to get collegiate status - you have to prove you want it."
However, there are several benefits that made the process worth the effort. Wrzesinski said as a collegiate section, the national organization will provide resources including leadership training sessions, advice on fundraising and membership recruitment, and scholarship opportunities.
Having a group that focused on women was important for female engineering students. Melissa Garcia, who studies environmental engineering and is the vice president of outreach for SWE, joined because of the camaraderie. Being able to talk to other female students who have completed the courses she is taking has made her feel "less alienated."
Theresa Enyeart, a mechanical engineering student and member of SWE agreed and added "diversity in engineering and STEM in general is really important. It's very helpful to have a community to depend on."
That doesn't mean the SWE chapter at SAC is only open to women. Several members of the inclusive group are also men studying engineering.
Matt Ludwig, who is studying mechanical engineering, said he was recruited by Wrzesinski to join SWE. Ludwig, who was looking for student groups for networking, scholarship, and career opportunities, said that he feels the group has a different vibe. "They are positively proactive about things," he explained.
Miguel Sandoval is also studying mechanical engineering and is a member of SWE. "I wanted to see the perspective of what women have to go through and to help out as much as I can," he said on why he joined.
An important mission for the SAC SWE chapter is mentoring elementary and high school students about going into the STEM field. The SWE members feel it is important to introduce young students to the diverse opportunities that can be found in engineering and how the field has a creative and problem-solving side to it.
Wrzesinski again affirmed that the SWE chapter plays a vital role at SAC. "It's easy to get discouraged in your classes when you are the only female. So I think it is important to be part of a group that encourages you and will help you with all the barriers that you are going to face," she said. "Things are getting better for women in engineering but I think that it is important for all women in STEM to be a part of this group so that we can be there for each other."
Photo: Some members of the SAC Society of Women Engineers chapter. Left to right: Irene Salazar, Madeline Wrzesinski, Melissa Garcia, Theresa Enyeart, Miguel Sandoval, and Matt Ludwig (photo by Leonard Ziegler).