VAA Virginia Asphalt Fall/Winter 2022

VAASPHALT.ORG 25 WOMEN OF ASPHALT SPOTLIGHT studying specifications and utilizing every resource to which I had access. I eventually began teaching certification schools and writing the same specifications I was studying months previously. It was there that my interactions outside VDOT began to grow. I met many people involved in asphalt construction, from liquid suppliers and paving crews, to quality control personnel and industry reps. Each group brought something different to the conversation, and I credit them for helping me meet my successes along the way. Over the course of my seven years within the Asphalt Program, I’ve enjoyed being a part of day-to-day tasks, research projects, implementation of new initiatives and programs, large scale projects, disputes and resolutions, presentations and personnel management. Then, in 2018, I transitioned from asphalt to concrete. I became proficient in another material, met a different group of industry and built some new relationships. Earlier this year, I made the move back to my roots and am now the Assistant State Materials Engineer, overseeing VDOT’s Asphalt and Pavement as well as Design programs. One of my first major tasks is continuing to lead Virginia’s implementation of BalancedMix Design. It is a demanding role, but one that I look forward to every single day. Throughout my career, I have dealt with positives and negatives of being a woman in a male-dominated field. I have had to not only grow technically and professionally, but also have undergone personal development—and I continue to do so. Finding a strong voice and believing in myself was essential to my journey to get to the position I am in now. Surrounding myself with mentors, those who believe in me and those who challenge me, not only helped teach me what I know but also allowed me to grow in confidence. One thing close to my heart is sharing my experiences with other females who are interested in the science and engineering fields. I am currently involved in local chapters of Women of Asphalt and SWE, and I am an advisor to a SWENext club at a local high school, counseling girls who are planning a future in engineering. It is important to me to share the experiences of women in the field— the opportunities we have had and the challenges we have encountered—and be able to answer any questions they may have. If I have a part in bringing just one female into this field and keeping her long-term, my experiences have been worth it. The driving force behind my growth, development and success in my career are my kids. I want my son to grow up seeing strong women pursue their goals. I also want my daughter to know she can do anything she wants to, as long as she puts her mind and heart into it and works hard. Being a woman in a male-dominated field and starting a family is anything but easy, but I’ve done it and am a stronger, more successful woman and engineer because of it. I received a piece of advice that I’ve carried with me throughout my career from a teacher I reached out to for help. He said, “You can believe in how people make you feel, back down, and show them they’re right. Or, you can be strong and show them they’re wrong.”