society of women engineers - College of Engineering & Natural Sciences

society of women engineers

TU student awarded Society of Women Engineers scholarship

For over 70 years, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has awarded scholarships to exceptional female students in engineering. This year, SWE granted a total of $1,027,850 to 300 students through new and renewed scholarships.

Chemical engineering student Pamela Okaro smiling and wearing an open-collar blue shirt and a black sweater
Pamela Okaro

The University of Tulsa is proud to be the academic home to one of these remarkable individuals. Pamela (Naya) Okaro, the recipient of the Bayer Scholarship, is a senior majoring in chemical engineering. Originally from Houston, Okaro chose to attend TU because of its reputation for high-quality engineering education.

“In addition to the outstanding courses and professors, such as Professor Hema Ramsurn, who is my favorite person at TU, the university has a homey feel and it’s a place where I’ve been able to make real friends,” said Okaro. “I have also been fortunate to have access to scholarships, internships and research and job opportunities.”

Dedication + hard work = success

“I’ve known Naya since she was a freshman,” noted Ramsurn. “Naya is, of course, a great student: she has had so many awards, not only from TU but also from national organizations like the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. But what sets her apart is her personality, her go-getter attitude, her dedication and hard work.

“Naya’s desire to learn has always led her to engage in a number of activities, whether they are internships or doing research on campus. I am especially proud of Naya because she is a first-generation American from a family who migrated from Nigeria. She is a great example not only for the African American community but especially for the young girls who, like her, aspire to become scientists, astronauts and engineers.”

Ty Johannes, the chair of TU’s Russell School of Chemical Engineering, added, “We are very proud of Naya. She is well deserving of this award from SWE. Naya works incredibly hard and she is an outstanding student in our program.”

As she looks toward her career after graduation, Okaro’s sights are set on the energy sector because of its breadth and versatility. She, notes, however, that her chemical engineering degree will also give her a solid footing in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other fields should she decide to pursue those routes.

TU’s chemical engineering undergraduate programs can give you the knowledge and skills required to land a rewarding job or to continue on in graduate-level studies in chemical engineering, medicine, law or business. Discover the path that suits you.

True Inclusion: Senior Rachel Deeds is Building Space for Women in STEM

Engineering and other STEM fields can be a boy’s club, but mechanical engineering senior Rachel Deeds is working to make sure women have a strong future in STEM. As a student at The University of Tulsa, Deeds rose quickly through the ranks in the Society of Women Engineers, interned for national organizations during the summer and worked tirelessly to create space and opportunity for other women and girls interested in engineering.

Finding her own role models

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Deeds was a little hesitant when she first became interested in STEM and had to find her own role models. One of these was her father, teaching her to fix things as a child. “He was a stay at home dad who was consistently working on a ton of different projects. I really got to experience giving back to the community in fixing things with him. He inspired me to go against the stereotype and pursue my interests in that,” she said. Deeds also looked up to the great history of women in STEM who went against the grain and innovated in their fields. This would lead her to a major in mechanical engineering at TU, with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, Deeds visited the campus several times when deciding where to finally attend school. In every visit, Deeds was blown away by how welcoming and nice people were at TU. This supportive environment along with the opportunities in her program would eventually help her move on to so much more.

Find out more about UTulsa’s STEM programs.

Internship Success

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During summer breaks, Deeds landed internships with national companies that would help build her résumé and refine her interests. Deeds distinguished herself at Caterpillar, working as the only engineer on a team of business students. “It was kind of challenging at first, being that unique perspective,” Deeds reflected, but she didn’t let it discourage her.

One of the accomplishments Deeds was most proud of at Caterpillar was creating workflow, defining process maps that are still utilized by the company today. “Whenever a new product came online, I mapped out the who what and when,” she explained. Her initiative and talent set her apart in her internships. These qualities would also make her a leader at TU, and eventually in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Check out how Career Services can help you find an internship like Rachel.

Leading the way for women in STEM

Rachel Deeds, women in STEMAttending the Annual SWE Conference in Philadelphia, Deeds had the opportunity to network and connect with other women in STEM fields. “As a prospective college student, I didn’t want to be the only one in my position,” Deeds said. “I looked for a way to give back to students like me.” This experience inspired Deeds to pursue a leadership position within SWE and she was eventually elected president of the TU SWE chapter.

Get connected with the UTulsa chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

Deeds’ work in the community doesn’t stop there. She also worked with Make a Difference Engineering at TU (MADE AT TU) to design and build therapeutic devices to help special needs students in Tulsa and was selected as an SWE Future Leader, the first TU student to hold that position. As an SWE Future Leader, Deeds acted as an exponent for SWE, sharing her experience and inspiring young women around the country to become the engineers of the future.

With people like Rachel Deeds leading the way, the future for women in STEM is bright.