Power behind Community Outreach

Leah Crossley is a third-year Geological engineering student pursuing a secondary major in Environmental Studies. She shares her experience as the Vice-President Outreach for UNB’s Diversity Within Engineering group and the impact community outreach can have on a single individual.

Currently, I’m the VP Outreach for the Diversity Within Engineering here at UNB. My role is primarily focused on encouraging and empowering women who are hoping to enter engineering. One of the first things that girls in grade 9-12 usually express to me is they say “I don’t think I’m smart enough”. It seems to be such a common trend too that they always underestimate themselves. But these girls are absolutely brilliant. They have some of the best averages, so I always tell them “you are smart enough, you are good enough”.

Sometimes women tend to lack confidence more so than men and I don’t know exactly why that is. I know when I was in high school, teachers would often pick on the guys and ask them questions instead of girls. And there isn’t always that pressure on women. Women aren’t expected always to be smart as men because men are “supposed to be good at everything”.

When I was in high school, I think if I had someone sitting down with me to ask me questions or about any concerns I had, I would have been confident from the get-go about pursuing engineering. Despite wanting to be an engineer since grade 7, I severely lacked confidence throughout high school, but luckily ended up changed my mind and took a leap of faith in grade 12 to apply to UNB. Thinking about it now, it’s so ridiculous. I did have a decent average in high school but for some reason, I just never thought I was smart enough to enter the engineering field.

Now I can’t imagine my life not being in engineering. I get so many unique opportunities such as hands-on work in in the field and pursuing my passion for the environment. So whenever I do meet with high school girls, I talk to them openly and honestly and seeing them take it in gets me every time. This is why outreach is so important. Because you never know the profound and inspiring effect one small interaction can have on someone’s confidence and their ability to see themselves as successful.