Jui Hanamshet: Aspire Scholars Reflection
February 11, 2020
Aspire Scholars is a year-long program for sophomores, in which they develop their goals and embark on funded personal and professional development experiences. Through small group meetings and individual advising, Scholars gain the tools and opportunities to clarify professional goals, engage more deeply on and off campus, and build stronger personal and professional relationships. Now that the program is in its third cohort of students, we asked former Aspire Scholar, Jui Hanamshet, to write about her experiences in the program and the opportunities that followed.
I started the Aspire Scholars program in the winter term of my second year at Drexel and it taught me what it really means to excel in life, not just in school. The most impactful part of this program were the people I met. For example, one of our events was the Coffee Chat. Out of the 14 Scholars, we had to invite someone whom we didn’t know very well out for coffee. Through this, I learned about a new person’s life story and debated the true meaning of “good” and “bad”.
In the spring, we had the opportunity to meet with a few distinguished alumni. I had lunch with two – Josa Hanzlick and David Kaganovsky. Josa is truly one of the most authentic people I’ve met. We talked about mental health, what it means to be on the Alumni Board, and her aspirations for current students. I was able to meet with her again at the Society of Women Engineers conference in Minneapolis, where we talked about overcoming the struggles of being a woman in engineering.
At the time David and I first met, he was the Chairman of the Alumni Board. In this meeting, he described his journey to becoming the CTO of Wavemaker, a marketing technology company. Afterwards, I had a phone call with him to learn about the differences in marketing strategies between Asia and America. A year later, the spring of my third year, I interned in Singapore and reached out to him to see if he could introduce me to his colleagues there. I was able to meet with two of his colleagues who then offered to mentor me throughout my time in Singapore.
Additionally, through Aspire, I learned how to meaningfully connect with people on LinkedIn in order to build my network. The summer of my third year, I interned at Microsoft and I had two employee referrals – one from an engineer I connected with through the NCWIT women in tech online community and another from a Drexel alum. While at Microsoft, I cold emailed engineers for one on one conversations to learn about their career paths. By the end of the summer, I had had over 30 meetings and three of them offered to mentor me throughout the school year. One of them brainstormed with me for my Pattern Recognition class project. Another helped me decide between my internship offers.
As well as participating in skill building and important meetings, Aspire Scholars are allotted up to $1000 to spend on proposed professional development activities. I used my funding to take a Data Structures online course and attend two conferences – the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference. At GHC, my favorite session was a mentoring session with the VP of Engineering of LinkedIn, who talked about being in touch with your emotions at work, finding your support system, and being true to yourself. At both conferences, I networked with more women engineers, interviewed with companies, and received multiple internship offers. Ultimately this led to me accepting an internship with Goldman Sachs in London.
In the fall term of my fourth year, I made the difficult decision of dropping out of the Accelerated BS/MS program. I reflected on conversations I had during Aspire with Meredith Wooten and Martha Meiers, who conducted the Aspire workshops. I learned that life is more than school and co-op, and decided I need to be a ‘T’ person – have a breadth of general knowledge and depth in one area, instead of an ‘I’ person – knowledge of only one area. Since dropping the MS, I have had time to pursue my passion of teaching by organizing coding workshops for high school girls and tutoring at the Drexel Academic Center for Engineers. I can now truly focus on my mental health and work on improving my well-being sustainably for the long-term, versus just finding temporary solutions.
This past year at Drexel has been a success and Aspire has had a big part in it. Furthermore, I’m proud to say that a student I advised during their Aspire application process is a part of this year’s cohort. It brings me immense joy to give back to this program and see it grow.
- Jui Hanamshet (BS Computer Engineering '21, Honors)
For more information about the Aspire Scholars Program, visit drexel.edu/pennoni/urep/enrichment-programs/aspire-scholars.