What is your story?
I am a Buffalo native. I went to Sweet Home High School and the University at Buffalo for environmental engineering. Post-graduation, I grabbed a job opportunity in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean to work as a water engineer for the American Samoa Power Authority.
While working there, I specialized in GIS and water distribution modeling. While working overseas I found a puppy during a storm and we have been inseparable since. I brought Tuni back to the states with me after my two year contract was up. I traveled for a few months and then took a job at Ecology and Environment Inc., as an environmental engineer. I currently work there conducting design of shoreline restoration projects and environmental remediation plans; and construction oversight of remediation work.
What message do you like to promote?
I truly believe that with hard work and the right mind set, you are capable of more than you think you are. I like to motivate those around me to take their capabilities to the next level.
In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?
I am involved as a board member for Coconut Mutts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit which is dedicated to ethical and sustainable programming that benefit the animal population of American Samoa, and Engineers Without Borders Buffalo Professionals chapter.
In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to?
After returning to New York from American Samoa, I started interviewing for new jobs and was not sure what to expect as far as job/salary requirements. I am lucky to have friends in a similar field and questioned them extensively on what they are making/what they are doing for work. I also did a lot of online research; plugging in all of my licensures and training to see what is fair for someone with my level of experience. I understand that this subject is taboo for a lot of people in the United States.
Regardless, I would encourage any woman to talk and research salary more to understand if what they are getting offered is fair. After gaining more knowledge on these things through my research, I decided to turn down a job offer that was way less than what I should be getting with my experience even though it was my only job offer at the time. It was a leap, but I am glad I said no because I ended up getting better offers later.
Did you have a Mentor, Coach or Sponsor along the way that was essential to your growth and success? If so, who was it and why?
My parents played a large role in my growth/success. They know me better than I know myself sometimes, so I know I can go to them with important decisions. They are always willing to help me talk through possibilities until we gain a solution.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do at Ecology and Environment, Inc.?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is that I am doing something new everyday; I never get bored. I am blessed to work with a lot of knowledgeable and interesting people to nerd out about science with.
If you could give one piece of advice for the women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business or organization, what would that be?
Some of the best advice I have ever gotten was this: try something and if you don’t like it try something else. I think a lot of times we feel like starting a new job or business is an end all decision. When you think of it as sampling to figure out what you like and who you are it is not as overwhelming.