Reta White

Louisville, KY, US
Field of Work 
Civil Engineering
LG&E and KU
Job Title or "Student" 
Civil Engineer
University of Kentucky
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE)
Education Level 
Profile Biography 
Ever since I was a little girl, geosciences and physics have interested me. When I was eight I collected rocks and imagined I would become an archeologist. When I was eleven my attention turned to space and I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. By the time I was in high school, I enjoyed my science and physics classes but I could not quite pinpoint what career path I wanted to take.

One day, after school, my math teacher asked me what my college plans were. I told her that I was not sure. Everything facinated me. What I knew for sure was that I liked applying what I learned in class in the real world much more than performing experiments in the classroom. She suggested that I look into engineering. Until that moment, I had never even heard of engineering, but once I started reading about it, the rest was history.

Engineering was exactly the kind of career I was looking for. I got to use the science I had learned and apply it to real world problems. Every problem was new and unique, so I never got bored doing the same thing over and over. There were all kinds of engineering professions to choose from, but in the end, I settled upon civil engineering because it encompassed the kind of work that interested me most: designing large structures such as bridges, tunnels, roadways, and industrial buildings that benefit everyone in my community. Civil engineering also appealed to me because it allowed me time outside to do field work. Being from a family of hikers and campers, I loved the idea of spending some work days outside.

During my senior year of high school, I applied to colleges of my choice. However, my biggest obstacle was finding the money to fund my college education. My parents did not have the money to pay for my college tuition or board. Fortunately, I had a great high school GPA which meant I could apply for many scholarshps. However, I didn't know what kind of scholarships I qualified for or how to start researching them. The best thing I did was talk to the financial advisor at the college I had chosen to attend. She was able to point me to all the options I had available to me. If it wasn't for her, I never would have recieved the scholarships that got me through college and put me on my career path.

College definitely had its ups and downs. I was used to getting straight A's in high school. College was far more challenging, but in the end I learned that what mattered more than getting the grade was being determined to follow my dreams regardless of what obstacles stood in my path.

During college, I took advantage of the engineering co-op program offered through the college of engineering. The co-op was one of the best things I did during college because it solidified in my mind much of what I was learning in the classroom. It also allowed me to build relationships with more experienced engineers who could share their work knowlege with me as well as be mentors and networking contacts for me in the future.

Since graduating college, I have worked for several consulting firms that design bridges, roadways, residential subdivisions, and utility pipelines. Now, I work for the electric utility company in my community. My job includes making sure that the power plants continue to operate safely so that my neighbors can keep their lights on.

When I'm not working I love to spend time outdoors hiking as well as spend time volunteering for women and children in my community so that they have the same opportunities I have had in my life. I also like using my creative energy to paint and draw in my free time. And, sometimes, you might even find me acting on the stage for local community theatres.
Writing/blogging, Working outdoors, Reading, Travel, Acting, Other
Race & Ethnicity 
Black or African American
Level of Participation 
After-school visit, Field trip participation, In-school visit, Online role model, Summer camp visit
My Experience 
I have been a Role Model 1-2 times.
No Preference
Program Affiliation 
NGCP Collaborative FabFem, Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

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