Alumnae Urge Future Women in STEM to Make Their Voices Heard

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
A group of Rose-Hulman students and alumnae meet in a room for a Women in STEM panel.

Alumnae from a variety of graduating classes, academic majors and career fields provided valuable insight and perspectives about women in STEM during a recent campus discussion with current students.

As graduates of a nationally recognized science, engineering and mathematics college, Rose-Hulman’s alumnae have the knowledge, skills and experiences to be major contributors in their career fields.

They just need to let their voices be heard.

That was the advice by six graduates from a variety of technical fields who are doing that and providing valuable insight on the Power of Women in STEM during a campus panel discussion. The event was part of the institute’s 2023 Women’s History Month celebration. 

The session, moderated by 2011 biomedical engineering graduate Kristen (Latta) Merchant, featured:

  • Virginie Adams, a 2012 bachelor’s graduate in computer engineering and mathematics and 2013 master’s graduate in engineering management, who is director of technical program management with Salesforce
  • Kiana Caston, a 2019 computer science and software engineering graduate who is a senior software engineer with Betterment
  • Alexa (Kovacs) Myers, a 2020 mathematics and economics graduate who is a data scientist with Resultant
  • Sophia Percival, a 2009 biomedical engineering graduate who is director of drug manufacturing with Catalent Pharma Solutions
  • Amanda (Austin) Stapleton, a 2006 mechanical engineering graduate who is vice president of software and digital engineering with Belcan
  • Amy Wicks, a 2004 civil engineering graduate who is a project manager with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

“You’re different and that’s an asset. You bring opinions to the table that are important,” said Myers, who brought educational and internship experiences in mathematics, economics and statistics to help Resultant establish a dashboard that helped the Indiana Department of Education keep track of COVID-19 pandemic relief funding and its results. She has gone on to contribute to several other worthwhile projects.

Meanwhile, Wicks has become an advocate for sustainable design practices that have been implemented into a living laboratory for sustainability, called Babcock Ranch, located northeast of Fort Myers, Florida. Her innovative design strategies are now being used in other communities to combat climate change.

“You need to find your voice and then not be afraid to speak up for yourself and your ideas, because they are valuable,” she said. “If you’re not going to speak up for yourself, nobody else will.”

Wicks proudly pointed out that all the sports stadium construction projects currently under construction by Kimley-Horn are being managed by women.

At Catalent Pharma Solutions, Percival led production on four aseptic filling lines, three of which were the primary suppliers of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic. She also has been recognized for supporting women in the workplace and participation in community Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build projects. 

“Representation matters,” she said about the role of women in the STEM workforce. “Women bring different perspectives that need to be heard and expressed.”

Percival has helped mentor other Rose-Hulman alumnae and women students during internships within her different roles in the health care industry.

“It’s important to have mentors to help you and to be mentors assisting others as well. We’re not going to grow women in the (STEM) work force, especially within management, if we don’t encourage other women to join us,” she said.

Stapleton is in her second role as a vice president with Belcan, a global supplier of information technology and services. She is responsible for profit and loss of the company’s engineering software and digital services after leading engineering solutions strategies. The mechanical engineering alumna formerly was a senior director of operations, director of systems and software, director of group operations, head of control systems, and account and section leader within key customer accounts.

Looking around the room filled with young women, Stapleton stated: “You all have a massive advantage – you go to the top engineering school in the nation. Use the lessons you have learned (at Rose-Hulman) to make a difference. You bring value to every situation.”

This year’s event, hosted by Rose-Hulman’s First Lady Tammy Coons, was organized by Baur-Sames-Bogart residence hall student leaders and sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, with support from the student affairs and alumni relations offices.