Q&A with Shawnn Foster
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
Describe your Akron experience.
Life-changing. I am proud to be a Zip because many great things have happened to me at this school. Going to college was a dream for me. This place made my dream come true. It’s my future alma mater, it’s awesome and well-respected. It’s everything.
What are your thoughts about engineering at UA?
I’ve come across some really amazing professors and advisors. The College of Engineering works really hard to make sure its students receive the best opportunities tailored to them. That’s really important. They don’t generalize anything when it comes to career outreach.
Have you participated in experiential learning? (e.g., internships, co-ops, study abroad, research, etc.)
I did two co-op rotations — one at Imperial Electric and the other at Bowden Manufacturing — and one undergraduate research opportunity. I was proud of myself because in both co-op rotations I was either the only black person or one of two or three working at these companies. I picked up skills that I didn’t learn in my classes. All three opportunities helped me refine what I am passionate about.
Have you been involved in any extracurricular activities?
I have been a part of the track team since I got to college. I have been an active member of both the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). And today I am the two-time secretary for SWE and secretary for NSBE. I have been to California and Texas through track. I went to California back in November for the SWE Conference, and I was able to go to Milwaukee for the NSBE Conference back in 2017.
What are some of your favorite things to do on and around campus?
I like finding small cafes around Akron — some are really whimsical. I like going to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My favorite spot on campus is the lounge on the first floor of the Jean Hower Taber Student Union. It has really comfortable couches, televisions, and that’s my little public ‘sanctuary.’”
What does UA offer that you can’t find anywhere else?
Lots of choices to find your community. I think it’s really important for people to feel comfortable. I found myself feeling connected to many different groups, as I always have, and I think Akron does that well. It has something for everyone.
What are your post-graduation plans and goals?
I hope to have a job lined up by the time I graduate. I see myself working somewhere in the south. I’ve lived in the cold all my life — I’ve paid my dues.
What advice would you give to prospective and incoming students?
Do your own thing. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do. Be open and kind.