As a dual degree engineering student Shanzila Chowdhury, ’19, describes her Meredith College journey as one of persistence, determination, and perseverance.
When she first arrived in Raleigh, Shanzila fell in love with the city, the environment, and the people on Meredith’s campus. She knew that as a women’s college Meredith encourages students to take on leadership positions.
“I knew I would get the best encouragement, advice, and support,” she said.
Coming from Bangladesh, Shanzila was faced with a language gap which was difficult, but she found positive support. “Everyone around me was so helpful and encouraged me to be strong and overcome that barrier,” said Shanzila. “It was with their support that I engaged myself in active communication to get over my fear.”
Her faculty played a large role in helping her transition, by offering support and understanding. “They were always there to listen to the specific problems that I was facing and were ready to help me in any way possible to overcome that issue,” said Shazila. “I have shared my problems, challenges, and successes with my faculty mentors and received constructive feedback, which really meant a lot to me.”
Earning dual degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering is important to Shanzila because engineering runs in her family. She has always been passionate and curious about physics and as soon as she heard about renewable energy, it was an instant spark and connection.
As a woman from a developing country who is obtaining two degrees, Shanzila hopes to be a role model for other women. “Women in developing countries are moving towards equality, even though there are still some situations where women have to live in fear and they are not being heard.” Her wish for fellow women is to overcome their fear and follow her or any other strong woman’s footsteps.
For her scholarly efforts, Shanzila received the Sensus ReachSM Scholarship, which relieved a financial burden and helped bring her closer to her goal. She also conducted undergraduate research and was able to present at conferences, a personal achievement.
“This scholarship not only gave me a sense of accomplishment but also showed that all my hard work and dedication paid off in the long run,” said Shanzila. “This award only pushed me further towards my engineering degree and my dreams of one day having a successful career as an electrical engineer.”
In a five-year dual degree engineering program, Shanzila has used each of her strengths. She said, “I learned that I am stronger than I think I am. If I am positive about something, then the path to achieving the goal becomes easier.”
One of her challenges was managing her time and setting a schedule while attending two universities. She learned to set her priorities, whether it’s research, work, or academia.
After graduation, Shanzila has accepted a full-time position as an electrical engineer with Black & Veatch, an engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company. Meredith helped her experience what it’s like to work in the industry and what the expectations are after graduation. She is grateful for the experience and the people who have helped pave her way.
“I am thankful to all of my peers and faculty mentors who have enriched my dual degree engineering program experience and believed in my abilities,” said Shanzila. “Without their continuous support and encouragement this achievement wouldn’t be possible.”
By Alexandra Lankenau, ’19
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