It’s here! The day is here! Welcome to Hey Dr. P!™, a space of musings and expression on innovation, diversity. I am glad you decided to stop on by. So I take it you’ve read scanned through some stuff. You should have gotten a glimpse of what I’m about. In case you didn’t, I’ve got a story. Like to hear it, hear it goes.
10 points for the person who caught that.
My name is Dr. Makita R. Phillips;
please use the R. I am a recent graduate with a doctorate in mechanical engineering. Yes, numbers, problem solving, heat transfer and design make me happy to the point that I decided to think deeply about them. I decided in middle school that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer after a teacher told me he thought I might be a good fit. I liked the engineering concepts and projects. So I decided that I would go for it. I grew up with no engineering role models but I like to forge my own path. So, what could I lose?
From there I decided to test for the Science and Technology Program. At the time, only 2 out of 20 high schools in the county had the program. I made it in and took up the engineering track. I was able to build a MagLeV, a robot for the robot war competition, build and compete in the state bridge competition (where I placed 2nd). I even got to take a gas engine apart and rebuild it! I just knew engineering was for me!!! Then came college. insert dramatic pause
Prior to college, school came naturally. Sure I had to study but more things clicked. Freshman year hit and the first round of test did too. I can’t remember my scores but no…just no. I had a 4-year full ride to maintain. My kind of party happened in my dorm room with a textbook and headphones. Now don’t get me wrong, I did do other things but I had a job to do and I was 800 miles from home. I made it through undergrad but my best memories came from my engineering cohort.
Let me explain. I attended a joint college of engineering between FAMU and FSU. Though I went to a HBCU, in my engineering courses and at the college I was a minority. My cohort consisted of a group of African-American students that studied together and hung out together. This was pre-NSBE for me; I was a late bloomer. This group was so instrumental in me making it through. We all had our strengths and each person played a role. Where someone else may have struggled the other was there to help. Aaahhh the golden years…then came grad school.
Everyone graduated and went to do their own thing. However, little ole me decided to keep going. I was alone for the first time in years. While I thought I knew what it meant to go to grad school, I truly had no idea what it really meant. I kinda bumped around till I found my footing. After my Masters, I went to NC State for my doctorate. Once again I was introduced to a new situation where I had no ties outside of my research group. However, I was able to grow as an independent researcher, a computationalist and a speaker. I grew as a woman and more importantly a double minority in engineering. It was a crazy time while I was going through it. However, looking back I realize I can truly do anything because of my experiences.
Life is an adventure (so cliché, right?). I think the saying is “ The only thing certain in life is death and taxes”. That is so true because sometimes plans don’t work out but the beauty of dynamics is the ability to adjust to situations. There is a lesson in failure. Successful people rarely succeed the first go round. So fail, learn and repeat until that moment of success. I’ll end with this quote from my facebook page.
“At first, I dipped a toe. Then, I put my feet in. Next, went my legs. After feeling a little comfortable, I jumped in. Sometimes risks pay off and even when they don’t there is a lesson. Peep the scene and come on in, the risk is fine.”
Note: That does not mean to live recklessly. It just means make a move and don’t let fear paralyze your growth.
Until next time….