Each year March is dedicated to Women’s History Month. LMU Seaver College is celebrating this month by featuring some of the amazing women in our college, who are extremely successful in their fields. Cheers to celebrating Seaver’s own wonder women! Here we feature a Q and A with Stephanie August, professor of electrical engineering and computer science.
Q: Please share with us why you wanted to pursue your Ph.D. and work in higher education?
A: I appreciated the intellectual challenge of a Ph.D. and wanted to go as far as possible with my education. My work in higher education began with teaching graduate students part time, which provided an opportunity to focus on directly using the artificial intelligence and database management systems knowledge gained during graduate studies. Subsequently, a full-time position in higher ed enabled me to continue working with the science I loved while juggling work responsibilities while raising five children.
Q: When you advise students, what words of wisdom do you find yourself sharing consistently with different students over the years?
A: Your education is one thing you do for yourself.
To women who have children while they are completing their degrees: You can do this. It won’t be easy, it won’t be pretty, some things will go undone. But you can do this.
There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts take more time in the long run.
Make sure you always spend less than you make, have health care coverage, and save for retirement.
Q: As a woman in STEM, is there a woman that you’ve looked up to or who has influenced the work you do? Who is that person? And how did they influence you?
A: Two women come to mind. As a child, I read a biography about Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity and the first woman to win a Nobel prize. She was my first female scientist role model, someone with whom I could easily identify.
When I was a graduate student with three young children, I met Millie Dresselhaus at a Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. Dr. Dresselhaus was the first female Institute Professor and professor emerita of physics and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a highly decorated academic, and a mother of four. I was concerned about balancing my graduate studies while working in industry and raising my children. She assured me that it would be just fine if I pursued a slower career path while my children were young. It was a brief encounter that gave me the confidence to persevere in my triple life path. I never forgot her few kind words of support, and have tried to pass that support forward to others facing similar challenges and doubts.
Screenwriting major Abigail Braccia and entrepreneurship major Sara Appelqvist contributed to the Women’s History Month series. This article was written by communications major Jordan Lindsey.