Sarah Al Janabi

San Diego, CA, US
Field of Work 
Astronomy and Space Science
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific)
Job Title or "Student" 
Lead Test & Evaluation Engineer
University of California San Diego
Chemical Engineering
Education Level 
Profile Biography 
Reflecting on my education and career journey, I had many unexpected detours and career changes that I never planned for. When I was in elementary school, everyone would tell me that I should become a doctor since I was really good at school especially the sciences. So I grew up with the one goal of becoming a doctor, and after graduating high school, I actually did attend medical school back in my native country for one year. However, during my first year, my family took a life-changing decision of moving to the United States where I had to start over college applications. I went ahead and registered at the nearest community college and started taking classes for Biology Pre-med major. However, after closely looking at the number of years it was going to take me to become a doctor, I realized I needed a Plan B since I didn’t want to work as a Biologist in case I decide not to continue with medical school application for any reason. After considering Mathematics, Bioengineering, Nanoengineering, and Chemical Engineering and discussing the pros and cons with my counselors and family, Chemical Engineering was the best fit because of the diverse job opportunities Chemical Engineers have in different fields. Plus, the classes required for a Chemical Engineering BS also satisfied most of the prerequisites for medical school.

I completed the first two years of college at Cuyamaca/Grossmont Colleges Community District and transferred to University California San Diego (UCSD) to complete my bachelor’s degree. While attending UCSD, I had multiple internships during my college years and had the opportunity to work as an intern and an associate engineer at a couple of reputable companies: Medtronic Diabetes, and Genentech, where I was exposed to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. I also worked in academia as an undergrad researcher at an immunology lab at the Scripps Research Institute and at a nanomaterial chemistry lab at UCSD. I really enjoyed being an active student as well. I participated in pre-professional student societies and held different leadership positions one of which was the president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) at UCSD where we had multiple info sessions, workshops, and events for students that helped them professionally and socially.

Even though I had internship experience in the biotechnology industry, when it was close to graduation, I started considering a career in the US Navy especially that my husband had been an electrical engineer for the Navy for many years before me and he really enjoyed what he did. Luckily, I walked to my graduation ceremony with a job offer as civilian Chemical Engineer at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Detachment Fallbrook, which is a US Navy organization. I worked as test & evaluation engineer testing the chemical components of multiple systems for the US Marine Corps. Two years after, I made the next move in my career and took a job offer with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) where I currently work as a lead test engineer for satellite communication systems for the US Air Force. Did I plan to be where I am now? Absolutely not, but I’m extremely thankful for having opportunities to work on systems that have a very high impact on not just safety of Americans, but manhood in general.

My advice to you is to keep an open mind and not limit yourself with one option because the world can offer you golden opportunities you might have not considered at all. If you don’t like where you are currently and feeling lost, just keep moving, ask for help, and be sure that you will find your place in this wonderful world.

Writing/blogging, Working outdoors, Dance, Reading, Travel, Sports
Race & Ethnicity 
Level of Participation 
After-school visit, Field trip participation, In-school visit, Job shadow, Online role model, Summer camp visit
My Experience 
I have been a Role Model many times.
No Preference
Career exploration activities, Identifying other role models, Online Mentoring (email or Skype)
Program Affiliation 
Federal Employee, Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
Federal Employee Bureau/Department 
Department of Defense/Navy

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