6 Women from Consumers Energy Recognized at the Women of Color Conference for Making a Difference in STEM

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Garrick Tonya presented with award (002)

TONYA BERRY

Title: Vice President of Operations Performance

Award: President’s Award

What does the award mean to you? 

To be recognized for my small contributions to the quality of this world is humbling. I want this award to symbolize for all women and young girls that are in STEM, considering STEM that look like me, to know that anything is possible.  They too can shoot for the moon.

What inspired you to get involved with STEM?

When I was 8 years old, I was fortunate to participate in an enrichment program in my school district that was designed to develop STEM skills in kids. I was able to meet and work with many engineering professionals.  That program left an impact on me and inspired me to go to U of M to study Engineering and to pursue a career in STEM.

Where do you see the future of STEM? 

STEM is imperative to our future. We must continue to build a pipeline of talent in this space which will enable the next generation of innovators.  Innovation leads to new products, processes and services that will sustain our economy.

What advice would you give to other women interested in the STEM field?  

Pursuing a STEM field allows you to do meaningful work. It allows you to contribute and make a difference in the world. Never underestimate yourself and aim high. Push past stereotypes, get comfortable being uncomfortable, trust your instincts and find a few good mentors.

WOCtech

POONAM YADAV

Title: Research and Insights Manager

Award: Technology Rising Stars

What does the award mean to you?

This award is very important to me as it validates all the hard work I have been doing and puts a spotlight on women in these fields.

What inspired you to get involved with STEM?

My Father, who is an Aeronautical engineer is my biggest influencer. He got me excited and involved with STEM at an early age.

Where do you see the future of STEM? – We are witnessing exhilarating growth in the STEM fields right now. Never before have such innovative technologies and advanced tools been available! This is a field that will truly shape the future.

What advice would you give to other women interested in the STEM field?

Don’t let others sidetrack your experience. Let your passions, talents, curiosities, inspirations and life’s mission drive you. 

DAVIDA LOWE

Title: Circuit Engineer – LVD Planning

Award: Technology Rising Star

What does the award mean to you?

When Vangie Harvey informed me that she was nominating me for this award I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It is truly an amazing feeling to have someone you look up to tremendously believe in you and recognize your potential. I’ve been working in this industry for a short period of time, so being acknowledged as a “Rising Star” is a great honor that I’ll always be proud of.

What inspired you to get involved with STEM?

I’ve always been sort of a tinkerer when I was a child. I enjoyed taking things a part, figuring out how they worked and then re-assembling them. My grandfather’s garage was one of my favorite places to be. I loved helping him work on his cars or other things around the house that needed to be fixed.

My journey into high school really accelerated my love for STEM when I joined the FIRST robotics team. I took advantage of any opportunity to escape to the robotics workshop and work on projects and prepare for upcoming competitions. The joy I got from being a problem solver, coupled with the encouragement I received from my robotics coach, was what really sealed the deal of me becoming an engineer.

Where do you see the future of STEM?

I see the future of STEM evolving. Every tangible object around us is the result of the collaborative thought of individuals in STEM fields. I’m coming across more and more unique inventions that were designed to make everyday tasks simpler. The technological impact on our society is evident just by looking back at our own history.

If I went back in time 50 years ago and told my grandmother that people would be driving electric vehicles or had more than one television in their home, she probably wouldn’t believe me. When I was a kid, you couldn’t use the house phone or surf the web on your desktop computer at the same time. All these advancements were made possible by people in STEM fields, and I don’t foresee it stopping anytime soon.

What advice would you give to other women interested in the STEM field?

If you have the slightest bit of interest in STEM, get involved through Job Shadows or find a mentor. STEM encompasses many different fields and can be combined with many different interests. Don’t let anyone deter you from doing what you love just because there aren’t many people who look like you, doing it – break the mold. You can be the representation for future generations that you lacked growing up.

ERICA KRUKOWSKI

Title: Gas Distribution Field Leader- Corrosion Control

Award: Rising Star in Technology

What does the award mean to you?

I am very honored to be recognized for my work with technology. I am very passionate about utilizing new technology to eliminate human struggle within my team and for my colleagues.

What inspired you to get involved with STEM?

I think I’ve always been interested in how and why things work. From playing with Legos as a child, to science summer camps, to taking all the science and math courses I could in high school. I also knew I wanted to use my problem-solving skills to help others. When I was in college, I learned about some engineering friends who were getting real-world experience helping to solve problems during their internships. I had an opportunity to take an internship with Consumers Energy and I was able to help solve problems and deliver energy to my family, friends and neighbors. I was very inspired about helping Michigan meet their energy needs! I also got to help different departments utilize technology to their complete their daily work.

Where do you see the future of STEM?

The future of STEM is diverse and inclusive. When I started in engineering I worked on all male teams. Since that time, I’ve had two female leaders and a female CEO. I’m inspired by the changes in STEM! It’s going to take diversity of thought and experience to deliver the best results.

What advice would you give to other women interested in the STEM field?

The best advice I could give someone is just take the leap and dive in! Learn everything you can and talk to as many people about what they do! So many are willing to teach, if you are willing to learn. I think when I started, I felt intimidated because no one in my job looked like me. I hope that you lean in, because your ideas and background provide value to the tasks and your voice matters!

ZAKIYA HARRIS

Title: Restoration Resource Manager

Award:  Technology All-Star

What does the award mean to you? 

I’ve been in many roles since joining Consumers in 2000, both technical and leadership.  It was an honor to be recognized for contributions that I’ve made toward ensuring a prepared technical workforce for the Company.

What inspired you to get involved with STEM? 

I’ve always had a love for math and science and enjoyed learning and figuring out how things work.

Where do you see the future of STEM? 

STEM is boundless.  I’m excited to see the ever-increasing fusion of traditional STEM with other disciplines like social science, business and the arts.

What advice would you give to other women interested in the STEM field? 

Have no fear.  Take the shot!  You will never know what positive impact you can make in this world if you don’t.

Jennifer Rose

JENNIFER ROSE

Title: Executive Director of Electric Regulatory and Strategy Implementation

Award: Special Recognition Award

What does the award mean to you?

The Special Recognition Award speaks to the amazing progress industries have made to promote, inspire and publicize the achievements of women and ethnic minority groups within STEM fields. It is a testament to the commitment that great organizations, such as Consumers Energy, hold to recognize and grow workplace diversity and associated accomplishments.

I am humbled by this award and excited to be part of growing the pathway for others in STEM careers. I hope this award influences and inspires others to recognize there are no boundaries to our STEM accomplishments and the broad, long-lasting impact we can each make in our professional careers.

What inspired you to get involved with STEM?

Since an early age, my actions have been motivated and inspired by a deep desire to have a positive impact on the world – whether it’s through personal relationships, communities that I serve, interactions with customers or on the environment. My diverse experiences growing up cultivated a love for humanity that now manifests itself through the work that I do as an engineering and business leader. Science, technology and engineering have created the unique ability to make lasting, positive impacts for future generations. This is what fueled me as a child and continues to inspire me every day.

Where do you see the future of STEM?

The future of STEM is extremely bright and limitless. With the exponential growth in technology and innovation, STEM will continue to impact all industries in both breadth and depth. By fostering curiosity, critical thinking, teamwork and experimentation, STEM advancements will be the key to unlocking innovative ideas to solve new and existing problems. I can’t think of a more direct and fulfilling way to sustain growth and betterment of peoples’ lives.

What advice would you give to other women interested in the STEM field?

My advice is focused less on tactics and more on MINDSET. Think the unthinkable, embrace challenge, be fearless and resilient and build each other up. The greatest accomplishments come from those who are anchored in the right mindset first and then follow their passion.

 

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