Re-engineering a stereotype
Published 10:06 pm Friday, May 22, 2015
After completing a visitation program with the Society of Women Engineers, King’s Fork High School’s 2015 valedictorian will attend the University of Virginia in the fall to study mechanical engineering.
Sydney Billmeyer said her dad inspired her to pursue the non-traditional career path. “My dad worked for the Navy, and he was with a lot of engineers, so I have always looked toward working for the Navy,” she said.
“If that doesn’t work out, I could do corporate — anything that pays for my master’s degree.”
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Billmeyer said she has been aiming at engineering for a long time, adding her family has pushed her to maintain strong grades.
When she learned she was valedictorian a couple of weeks ago, they went out for dinner to celebrate. “My dad was very happy,” Billmeyer said.
According to the American Community Survey for that year, about 14 percent of engineers were women in 2012 — the lowest representation in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
In comparison, almost half of mathematicians and statisticians were women.
As well as the visitation program, Billmeyer said, she will also be part of a Society for Women Engineers group on the campus of U.Va.
“It’s essentially just a club where it gets all the engineering women together and we go out and try to find high school students to join the visitation program,” she said.
“They brought us to U.Va. and showed us all the engineering facility … to try to get more women involved.”
U.Va. actually has one of the higher rates of women studying engineering, Billmeyer said, adding four King’s Fork classmates who’ll join U.Va. engineering program alongside her are females.
Billmeyer said her parents are helping her with the cost of college, and she also has a scholarship. But she plans to work over the summer to earn some extra spending money.
When she looks back in future years, Billmeyer said she believes the pep rally before homecoming will be her favorite KFHS memory.
“It’s just fun to see the whole school together supporting the team,” she said.
She’s excited about going off the college with a lot of her friends, she said, and she believes the International Baccalaureate program has prepared her for the academic challenges.
Her advice to rising seniors? Seek advice from your classmates, and don’t procrastinate.
“A lot of my friends procrastinated a lot, and I could not do that,” she said.