First Generation College Students
Annette Hernandez Uddameri, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
Welcome to the Whitacre College of Engineering at Texas Tech. The faculty, staff, and students are passionate about engineering and helping our students succeed. If you are a prospective student, please check out our prospective student page. To learn more about our services and opportunities to help you succeed and explore our different programs, please check out the undergraduate or graduate student page. Of course, we hope you will come to Lubbock and check us out!
As a first-generation college student, you have accomplished much to get to this point. You are embarking on an exciting journey that impacts your future.
The purpose of this information is to make sure you know you are not alone at Texas Tech. This Web page contains tips and resources we want you to have so that you can be successful.
Click on a photo for a profile of a first generation college graduate or a current student.
Gayle Burleson earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Texas Tech in 1988 and after graduation, she worked for eight years in various reservoir and production engineering capacities for the Exxon Corporation. After her time at Exxon, Gayle spent time as a reservoir and production operations engineer at several other firms, adding to her work experience and ultimately preparing her for her current role as the vice president of New Mexico operations for Concho Resources, a $10 billion market cap company with more than 850 employees. For Gayle, the last 25 years of her career have been very rewarding. When she visits with prospective engineers or students, she always tells them that "every day is a new day," and "each project or problem is unique." Gayle indicates that women in engineering, particularly petroleum engineering, are a minority now, but the tide is shifting from what it was when she began twenty-five years ago. "I never let that be an issue for me. I just did my job. It is fun, challenging, and rewarding," she said. She wants young women to know that engineering is not just a man's profession - women can be successful and contribute as well. They also have to know that having a career and a family is "do-able," but it is tough. It takes a great support network of family." Gayle is a member of the Texas Tech Whitacre College of Engineering Dean's Council, the Chase Foundation Scholarship Board, and is currently the vice president of the Artesia Chamber of Commerce Board.
Dr. Mica Endsley
In her senior year of high school, Dr. Mica Endsley, was asked by a good friend to go to a weekend retreat on engineering hosted by the Society of Women Engineers. She saw many opportunities in the field of industrial engineering to shape systems and products to benefit people's lives. At Texas Tech, Mica learned about optimization and human-systems integration, which she considers very valuable in all aspects of the engineering field. Mica graduated from Texas Tech Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering in 1982. Through her hard work and dedication to her education, Mica went on to earn a Master of Science in industrial engineering from Purdue University in 1985. Moving to Los Angeles, she worked as a research scientist for Northrop Grumman and stayed within the Northrop Corporation until she completed a Doctor of Philosophy in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California in 1990. Mica was recently named chief scientist of the United States Air Force. As the first female chief scientist, Mica encourages young women to pursue careers in the STEM (sciences, mathematics, technology, and engineering) fields. Reflecting on her own decision to pursue engineering, she believes there are many elements of engineering that are appealing to women. Those key elements include the many opportunities for creativity in the engineering workplace and the need to tackle problems in a team environment. She feels that women often do not realize that as engineers, they are solving real problems for society. "For many girls, they just don't know a lot about engineering. It really is a great field for women and I think more would be interested in it if they really understood what engineers actually did," says Mica.
I have always been good in science and enjoyed math, so it was easy to narrow down my choices to engineering. I wanted to challenge myself with a degree that would incorporate these two in order to solve problems and make things better. I've been very passionate about nature, helping others, and standing up for what I believe in since I was young. I think studying environmental engineering will help me make a difference in the world in the near future. Ever since my freshman year at Texas Tech, I made sure I stayed involved around campus. I believe this made me a more outgoing person and has made it easier to make friends. College is fun when you are organized and develop time management skills. I believe it is important to have a balance between school and extracurricular activities. I was involved in Unidos Por Un Mismo Idioma (UMI) were I met most of the friends I have today. Later on, I became involved with Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society), Chi Epsilon (Civil Engineering Honor Society), Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) and Phi Eta Sigma (PES), Engineering Ambassadors and Society of Environmental Professionals. These professional organizations and honor societies helped me stay up with current events in my field of study and as network with different companies.
Texas Tech is a "one of a kind" university that leads to endless opportunities!
If I could give any advice to future students on how to enhance their college career, it would be to get involved!! I am in a wide variety of collegiate activities including: Alpha Pi Mu, Engineering Ambassadors, Institute of Industrial Engineers, Pi Beta Phi, and President's Select. These activities have enhanced my professional skills and opened many doors for my future endeavors. Being a female in engineering has just made me push myself harder to be the best I can be. I am proud to be a RED RAIDER, GUNS UP!
In high school, I excelled in my math and science classes. Solving problems and puzzles interested me, so my parents suggested I should look into engineering for college. On a family vacation to London I became interested in the structures behind the buildings and chose to study civil engineering. When I visited Texas Tech I attended a football game and I loved the energy, excitement, and community the students created by watching the game. Texas Tech gave me a warm welcome and a small town feel. My freshman year I was involved in Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and it was a great way to meet and see that there are other females in the college. They had events to help reach out to girls to get involved in engineering which I really enjoyed being a part of. Being a female in engineering was intimidating when I first started, now I use it was motivation to excel in my classes. I have recently joined the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which is a great way for me to learn outside of the classroom. I am currently helping build the concrete canoe for this year’s competition and every time I go and help I learn something new! It has been a great way to meet more of the students in my classes as well as professors – plus enhancing my education with hands on experience.
Texas Tech has always been a part of my family; my grandfather, father, and older brother all attended. I may not be the first person in my family to attend Texas Tech, but I definitely am the first girl! I chose Texas Tech and mechanical engineering because I wanted to, of course, come to an accredited engineering school, but I also knew that in choosing so that many opportunities would be opened myself as a woman in engineering. I have always loved biology, and it never occurred to me that engineering could be an option. I would have felt at norm in a major that has many women, and I would be in my comfort zone, but rather than take the expected route I would have had in biology, I decided to switch to engineering. I aim to challenge and develop myself in a different area of study that is so diverse and has many opportunities, and I believe it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The greatest part of all is that I have finally been able to find my niche within engineering; I am taking healthcare courses and I’m planning on a biology minor to develop a career for healthcare in engineering. After being at Texas Tech these past few semesters, I have become involved in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Alpha Omega Epsilon, and most recently, Engineering Ambassadors. Being involved in these great organizations have molded me into the social, professional, intelligent and well-rounded young woman I am today! Alpha Omega Epsilon (A.O.E.), a sorority for women in engineering and the technical sciences, has had a huge impact on my education and experience at Tech. With A.O.E., I’ve taken all the ideals and objectives I have gained and have applied them to my education, my professional endeavors, and my life. Recently, those endeavors were becoming an officer in A.O.E. and being accepted into Engineering Ambassadors.
When picking colleges, I was a "Red Raider Hater" until I came out and visited Texas Tech and saw the close-knit community within the large campus. On my trip I was given a tour of the chemical engineering department by one of the professors who had been out in the hall with some free time on his hands. I was able to see where my classes would be and talk to actual students in my major - which really sold me on coming to Texas Tech. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly that it made me feel like Texas Tech could be my home away from home.
As a female in engineering, my education has been positively influenced because of the nationwide and local push to get more women involved in engineering. Scholarships are available just for women and there are many organizations that give great support systems and connections for females in engineering.
I chose engineering because of my skills in math and science classes. As a senior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do; but by picking chemical engineering I had a major that was extremely broad. I had multiple back up plans ranging from research in sustainable energy to pharmacy school and could do all of them with a chemical engineering degree. Engineering gave me the opportunity to find what I wanted to do without having to worry about changing my major.
I have been involved in the Alpha Omega Epsilon engineering sorority, Engineering Ambassadors, and the Texas Tech student chapter of American Institute of Chemical Engineering. By being involved in these organizations, I have been more connected to my major in engineering, had the opportunity to network, and learned more about industry. If I had chosen to not be involved in campus activities during my freshman year, I would be at a much different place than I am now.
Alpha Omega Epsilon
Alpha Omega Epsilon (A.O.E.), is a social and professional sorority for women in engineering and the technical sciences. Through the bonds of sisterhood, we promote the ideals and objectives that help our members grow both professionally and personally. We are leaders in our classes, industries, and communities. Our girls are not only leaders within A.O.E., but in other on campus organizations such as: Engineering Ambassadors, SPE, AlChE, ASME, SHPE, Tau Beta Pi, and Pi Tau Sigma. We strive to build a supportive environment full of enriching activities. This year we hosted events such as Mom's Weekend, Spring Formal, a What-Not-To-Wear Fashion Show, Mock Interviews and many philanthropic events. We are a diverse group of girls that have found a support system through A.O.E. Being a member means that you have sisters that will be sitting next to you in your classes, a built in study group, and connections in industry with alumnae of A.O.E.
Society of Women Engineers
The Society of Women Engineers is an organization that stimulates women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers. At Texas Tech, the society's purpose is to provide support, promote diversity, and unite women in science and engineering. SWE focuses their events on professional development and outreach. Through travel to regional and national conferences and welcoming companies for campus information sessions and presentations, women in SWE have countless networking opportunities with other women in engineering throughout the U.S. For outreach opportunities, SWE volunteers with middle and high school girls through events such as Catch the Engineering Bug and Night at the Science Spectrum to encourage young women to pursue engineering in the future. In addition to being a place to grow professionally, SWE is a great place for women in engineering to become involved, have fun, and meet lifelong friends!
Being a first generation college student is pretty tough at times, but it’s a learning experience that helps mold you into someone that you never imagined you would be.
One of the big reasons that impacted my decision to come to Texas Tech was when I visited the campus; I was welcomed by friendly people that quickly made me feel comfortable.
When I first transferred in from Midland College I was overwhelmed, but I was encouraged to join the Engineering Ambassadors. I was accepted and I got to know great engineering students who have become role models that continue to motivate me to become a successful student.
I graduated high school in 2009 and I did not want to go anywhere else besides Texas Tech. I chose Texas Tech for its excellent reputation of producing well prepared engineers who succeed in the real world.
Applying, visiting, and attending college was a whole new world that was extremely confusing at the time. However, Texas Tech made the process manageable. I found numerous resources that aided me in becoming a successful student. For example, free tutoring, resume critiques, and professional seminars are just a few of what Texas Tech offers.
From the age of seven, I wanted to be an engineer. As I grew, so did the number of questions about the mechanical aspect of certain objects and why processes existed. My passion for science and math were the precursors that led me further down my ultimate path as an engineer.
I graduated from Texas Tech in December 2013 and have been blessed with a job at ExxonMobil. Graduating with honors and securing a job with a prestigious company — while being a first generation college student — truly proves that the motto “From here, it’s possible,” is absolutely true!
Engineering isn’t the easiest discipline to study, but I believe that being a first generation college student has impacted my education in engineering by inspiring me to continue on even when I am tempted to give up. I also believe it pushes me to be the best because I am able to appreciate just how valuable this opportunity really is. Coming from a family where only one of my parents graduated from high school and neither even attempted to earn a college education I know that I don’t have a backup plan; this is my best opportunity to be successful.