Recent graduate Nina Lepp, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Loyola Marymount University, won a 2016 to 2017 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant. Lepp will teach English at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. Winners of the prestigious and highly competitive Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.
Lepp meets all of that criteria and more. An outstanding student, she was a member of Belles Service Organization, a group of women who provide service to the campus and the greater community. Throughout her years at LMU, Lepp volunteered at a shelter for battered women. She also served as president of the LMU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
Lepp, who is from Mercer Island, Washington, studied abroad in Germany and China through the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, and participated in an Alternative Break trip to South Africa. She was also a member of the men’s rowing team.
Her experience studying abroad led her to apply for the Fulbright, she says. “I never would have applied if I hadn’t studied abroad,” she says. “I realized how easy it is to live in another country.”
Her years at LMU also helped shape her desire to advocate for more opportunities for women in STEM fields.
“In the Belles Service Organization, we talk about social justice issues,” she says. “I’ve been lucky to find this issue of women in STEM that’s important to me.”
While in Poland, she hopes to help encourage women to consider STEM studies and to perhaps start a Society of Women Engineers chapter.
“Women in engineering face a lot of challenges,” she says. “We sometimes aren’t taken as seriously.”
Lepp has learned to be her own best advocate. She had already landed a job with Boeing in Seattle when she was offered the Fulbright grant in March. She reluctantly bowed out of the job offer.
“The manager at Boeing said he couldn’t extend my job offer for another year, but he said, ‘You are making the right decision. If we liked you last year, we’ll like you even more after doing a Fulbright,'” Lepp recalls. “It was nice they were so supportive, because it was hard to turn down my dream job.”