Gayle Has Earned a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering with a Concentration in Data Analytics
Activities at UVA: Trigon Engineering Society, UVA climbing team
Q: Looking back to the time when you applied to UVA Engineering, why did you choose this school?
A: What solidified my commitment to UVA Engineering was flexibility, atmosphere and excellence. I had toured other universities multiple times, but not only did UVA Engineering have a comparable reputation, it also offered a variety of specializations and the flexibility to support students in finding the perfect fit. All while still offering a centralized community of like-minded students in a location that felt both beautiful and welcoming.
After your time here, how are you different now – how have you grown as a person?
Some of the most significant changes have been improvements to intangible skills, in particular, comfort and confidence in professional settings. Seemingly simple actions such as going to office hours used to be nerve-racking. Yet, I eventually found myself not only running my own office hours but also being comfortable consistently engaging with both professors and industry professionals.
What was your favorite or most memorable educational experience at UVA Engineering, and why? Was there someone who helped you along your journey?
It is difficult to think of any experience with a greater impact on my college education than the sudden shift to online learning. It was incredibly challenging to figure out how to learn in a new way while simultaneously dealing with how the pandemic affected both my family and society. I fully attribute being able to continue during that time to both my incredibly supportive family and my academic partner, Aparna. Having another student in my major to communicate on both school and life matters during this time was invaluable.
What’s next for you?
I am eagerly anticipating my upcoming start with a global consulting firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is exciting knowing that I am taking my finishing steps here at UVA just in time to take my first steps in both a new city and on a new career path.
What positive impact do you hope to make in the future? Is there a big societal challenge you’d like to help solve?
I would like to be a positive force in seeing a greater number of African Americans have the desire, access and confidence to seek out a career in STEM and engineering. While I have always had an interest in improving diversity in STEM, my experiences with the UVA Center for Diversity in Engineering have only enhanced my belief that embracing the differences and experiences that make each of us unique makes us all that much stronger.
How has UVA Engineering prepared you for your future, for following your dreams or personal mission?
UVA Engineering has taught me to be constantly aware of how the things we create can drastically affect the world around us. Having to consider at the earliest points of development how a system or product will impact the environmental and humanitarian pieces of our global society has become a critically important step of the development process.
What advice would you give to engineering students who are just starting out?
a. Don’t feel trapped in any chosen major. Allow yourself to be exposed to disciplines that you may not have had prior exposure to but might have a greater interest in.
b. Even without a pandemic, engineering can be challenging in ways beyond academic success. It is incredibly important to find either a hobby or a confidant that can help support you through any challenges that come your way. Whether it takes you two years or ten, those with a mentality of perseverance will eventually find success.