Newsletter Spotlights

2017-2018 Newsletter Spotlights


Jen Yee Ko

Mechanical Science and Engineering


If you think Jen looks familiar, it is because she is one of Women in Engineering’s very own student coordinators! She primarily helps organize WIE LEAD because she finds it very rewarding to provide a space for women to have meaningful discussions. She says, “I love working here because the team is fun to work with and everyone is passionate about what they do.” In addition to being enthusiastic about her job for Women in Engineering, Jen has worked hard to make the most of the educational opportunities the university has to offer by pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Leadership Certificate. Before deciding on Mechanical Engineering, Jen had her heart set on becoming a car designer. After realizing that she wanted a degree that was more flexible and allowed her to go into a wider range of industries, she decided to study Mechanical Engineering. With this degree she was able to score an internship with United Airlines. While the work she was doing was interesting, Jen’s favorite part of this job was having discounted flight tickets. That summer she went to Hawaii a lot, and, during one trip, she spontaneously decided to go skydiving. To other students she says “Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be scared to fail. You grow much more if you take risks.” Another way Jen pushed the limits of her comfort zone was by studying abroad in Sweden. There she fell in love, traveled to 12 countries by couchsurfing and staying in hostels, and experienced heartbreak. While it wasn’t always perfect, she is grateful she did it because she grew a lot from all of those experiences. She was able to learn about many different cultures, meet locals, and make lifelong friends.


Alexandra Wittinger

Systems Engineering and Design


Alexandra has always been a very practical and logical person. When looking into higher education, she figured her skills were best suited for a degree in engineering like her brother and father. She was drawn to the University of Illinois because of the diverse opportunities available. Here, Alexandra was able to continue with her very successful basketball career as a player for the Fighting Illini Women’s Basketball team where she ranked second in the league for her 3.3 offensive blocks per game as a freshman, became 1 of 8 women in Illinois history to reach their 100th career block as a sophomore, and just scored the 1000th point in her college career in a game against Wisconsin on January 28th of this year. Additionally, as a part of Alpha Omega, the Illinois Campus ministry with the Champaign Church of Christ, Alexandra has been able to build strong relationships with people that encourage her to persevere with her convictions including her academics, basketball, and especially her faith in Christ.

Her #1 piece of advice to other students is to manage your time as efficiently as possible. Being a part of a sport that overlaps both semesters and takes up as much time as a job and an active participant in her campus ministry, Alexandra needed to master the skill of time management very quickly in college. She balances out her average workload by taking summer classes. After finishing her degree in next year, she hopes to work with waste removal systems to find more efficient ways to purify our water supply.


Elizabeth Sanders

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


Elizabeth chose to student Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after realizing the power of medical technology as she watched her mother battle cancer. “I had always been interested in engineering, as many of my family members are engineers, but my interest in Chemical Engineering was sparked after my mom had cancer. I was able to see what amazing things in healthcare had been created by engineers, and I wanted to be able to make a difference if peoples’ lives in regards to their healthcare, so less people have to go through things similar to the things my mom had to!”

As a student here, Elizabeth became heavily involved in the IEFX and WIE programs on campus because she loved how much they had helped her and other students she knew. One of her favorite memories from when she was one of the Student Program Coordinators for Women in Engineering orientation was “standing in front of all those girls, remembering when I was in their seats next to the girl who would be my best friend for the next four years, and hoping that some of those girls I was in front of were sitting to their new best friends too.” Similarly, she helps freshman learn how to become a successful student as an ELA for the ARISE section of engineering 100, and will be a head ELA this upcoming school year. In the future, she hopes to take all of this experience she has gained to help future engineering students feel included in their university, and provide them with the resources they need to succeed.


Morgan Scholtes



Morgan first decided to study bioengineering after shadowing a doctor in high school. After seeing first hand the impact healthcare has on peoples lives and all of the opportunities to develop medical technology, Morgan decided that she wanted to dedicate her life to making medical devices and drugs safer and more effective.  At Illinois, Morgan decided to become a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society to foster this passion. With this group she is able to network with like-minded students and speak with alumni currently working in that field. She loves it because, “It really allows us to see our options for jobs after graduation and what we we can do with our BioE degree.” In the future she hopes to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Additionally, Morgan spends a few hours a week working as a C.A.R.E. tutor on the 4th floor of Grainger. Morgan loves being a tutor becuase it allows her to give back the Illinois community by helping her peers and younger students understand difficult concepts in their classes and become better engineers. She also helped her fellow students as a mentor during WIE orientation this past year. Morgan first applied to be a mentor because “WIE summer orientation really helped me make friends and learn more about the campus before classes started, which made me feel a lot more at home and comfortable. By volunteering to be a mentor myself, I was able to help students like myself feel more comfortable with campus and the community here.”


Josie Stawinoga

Industrial Engineering


As an engineering undeclared student, Josie felt very confused and lost at the beginning of her freshman year. “What helped me work through it were the ELAs in my ENG 100 class. Their guidance and support helped me to find my community within this large university and a major that I now love.” Now Josie is helping other freshman like her by working as an ELA for ENG 100, and it has been the highlight of her junior year. Seeing her student grow and feel more comfortable at the University was very rewarding, and she is excited to see all they accomplish in the future.

As an Engineering Undeclared student Josie had the opportunity to take 2 semesters worth of classes to explore all of the engineering majors available at the University of Illinois. What drew her to Industrial Engineering was the combination of human factors with engineering concepts. “It is always really interesting when we are able to break down seemingly complex human issues into mathematical problems, and find a solution.” Her dream job would be working within the healthcare industry helping to improve processes and products so people using healthcare services are focused on getting better instead of the formalities that come along with seeking medical help.


Shannon Strum

Computer Science


Growing up Shannon developed a love for knowledge and math from her Dad, a software engineer, but it wasn’t until taking her first Computer Science class in high school that she really fell in love with coding. Now in college Shannon has delved into these passions through serving as the president of Women in Computer Science, developing projects on Tech Team in SWE, mentoring other women students through Lean-In, and more! Additionally, Shannon utilized the things she learns in class through working as a student consultant for the Security & Privacy office on campus. She says, “I love working there because the people are so nice and supportive, and the work is really interesting!” During this past summer Shannon worked for Bank of America in their Global Information Security division. During this internship, she and the other interns competed in teams to see who could create the best product for the insider threat team in the company. Shannon told us that this was her favorite part of the whole summer because she learned a lot and her team won second place.

To her fellow students Shannon says, “Believe in yourself, and never let failure stop you. I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for [Computer Science], but through the help of mentors and friends I found at UIUC, I’ve learned that anything (including CS!) is possible with dedication.”


Jackie Letzter

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


Jackie has been involved with WIE since her sophomore year, and often volunteered to speak to prospective and incoming women students about life at Illinois. She now works with WIE as a teaching assistant in ENG 198, a freshman women in engineering leadership and professional skill development course. Jackie also works as the Head ELA in ENG 100, the introductory freshman course in engineering.
Jackie has been involved in the Society of Women Engineers since her freshman year. This year, Jackie serves SWE as the recruitment director, and is very excited to get to know new SWE members at the many events and workshops that it has to offer. As recruitment director, she serves as an active member of the SWE officer board, and works with the recruitment committee to plan and execute events like Little Sisters’ Weekend, International Taste of SWE, and the Back-to-school Cookout. Jackie also involves herself in the University of Illinois Black Chorus in her free time, where she sings Alto II.
Jackie hopes to get a job in manufacturing as a process engineer or project engineer when she graduates in May.


Alyssa Licudine

Electrical Engineering


Alyssa is one of our Electrical Engineering freshman that our office had the opportunity to meet this summer during an event we had with the IEFX (Illinois Engineering First Year Experience) Summer Scholars, a program that give incoming freshman the opportunity to come to campus the summer before their freshman year to take classes and get acclimated. During her time in this program she and the other student would attend fun activities to teach them how to be a successful college student. Her favorite activity was learning about stress management by making Orbeez Stress Balls because the silliness of the using goo helped her to really bond with the other girls in her dorm and her amazing Resident Advisors. She began working in one of our research labs on campus focusing in Neurophotonics at the Biophotonics Imaging. She says, “My family’s history with Alzheimer’s has ignited my passion for contributing to the advancement of research in neurodegenerative diseases. Knowing how progress in neurophotonics will enable us to better identify and analyze such diseases in our brains, I leapt at the chance to get involved in the Biophotonics Imaging Lab at Beckman Institute.” Needless to say it was an eventful summer for Alyssa, and she is excited to continue to work in the lab, and meet other amazing student this fall.

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