Ever since the first female students came to Castle Point in 1971, women have been succeeding with Stevens degrees. Several of those proud alumnae joined 100 students, faculty and staff for the first Celebration of Women in Leadership at Stevens, including to cheer renovations to the Lore-El Center for Women’s Leadership.
The event featured a panel discussion that drew insights from Dr. Martha Connolly ’75 M.S. ’75, director of Mtech Baltimore, an initiative of the University of Maryland that promotes entrepreneurship in bioengineering; Mary Anne Cannon ’86, vice president of commercial engine programs at defense contractor Pratt & Whitney; Laura Dorival Paglione ’90, director of strategic initiatives at ORCID, a non-profit that catalogs the work of researchers worldwide; and Dr. Suzanne D’Addio ’07, an associate principal scientist at Merck.
Olivia Schreiber ’18 moderated the panel. In addition to pursuing a degree in chemical engineering with a career interest in the medical field, Schreiber serves as chair of the Honor Board and writes for The Stute student newspaper.
The panelists agreed on several points, including how Stevens prepared them for challenging careers.
“The hard work that I encountered at Stevens was a precursor for all that had happened afterwards in my career,” Connolly said. Connolly, who was a member of the first co-ed Stevens class, was honored with a Distinguished Alumni award at the 2017 Stevens Awards Gala.
“As tough as the material was,” Cannon agreed, “outstanding professors really sparked an interest in you to continue and want to keep doing it.”
The panelists also stressed the benefits of having a place like Lore-El for women on campus, which thanks to donor support will undergo renovations to make the first floor of the 4,500 square foot Victorian house more accessible for events.
“The center offers a great way to cultivate relationships with the people that you can touch base with when you’re facing a challenge in your job,” D’Addio said.
“There are so few women at the highest levels of leadership at any organization that it’s really easy to become isolated,” Dorival Paglione added. “Having a center for women at the undergraduate level is so important because I didn’t know that that was something I should have or that I should be trying to foster until many, many years later.”
The alumnae in the audience found the event to be a meaningful look at the history of women at Stevens, and one that also aimed an eager eye on the future.
“There was a time when the 'women of Stevens' was limited to the few women students and alumnae I knew,” said Rachele Grasso Smith ’81, an environmental engineer and supporter of women’s programming at Stevens who attended with her daughter, Julia ’17. “But now the faculty, staff, and leadership includes amazing women who I am fortunate enough to meet at these events and form friendships with! We have so much to be proud of, and these events remind us. I look forward to many more!”
“I was delighted to attend the Celebration of Women in Leadership,” said Dianne (Smith) Szipszky ’90 M.Eng. ’91, who attended with her daughters Maggie and Claire ’20. “The discussion highlighted the importance of hard work, discipline and mentorship as keys to success in all academic, professional and personal journeys women undertake. It is vital to share these experiences with current students as they contemplate their next chapter in life. I am so excited for the 700+ undergraduate women on campus to participate in the expanding women’s programming on campus.”
Together with her husband, Jim ’89 M.Eng. ’92, Szipszky recently made a gift to support the keynote speeches for the next 5 annual Women’s Leadership Conferences, including the 2017 conference planned for October 21.
“Jim and I are delighted to support the Lore-El Center and specifically the Women’s Leadership Conference,” she said. “We hope in the near future sufficient funds can be raised to endow key events like the Women’s Leadership Conference, and we encourage other alumni to support the Lore-El Center or the initiative of their choice at Stevens!”
See pictures from the Celebration of Women in Leadership at Stevens on the Stevens Alumni Flickr page, and support women’s programming and future renovation to the exterior and higher floors of the Lore-El Center by making a gift.