Today we feature Roshni Gandhi, a leader at Rowan University. Roshni served as the President of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) during the 2019-2020 school year. She is from Old Bridge, NJ (Middlesex County) and is a senior Biomedical Engineering major. Roshni is part of the 3+4 BME/MD program with Cooper Medical School, where she completes her Biomedical Engineering degree in three years and then begins medical school for four years. Roshni is also the president of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Society and was an SGA Representative of the Biomedical Engineering Society last year.
This story is part of a series spotlighting campus leaders during Women’s History Month.
What is your role in your organization?
I was the President of SWE during the 2019-2020 school year (we switched eboards at the beginning of this year). SWE is the Society of Women Engineers and is a professional development organization that helps foster a community between female engineering students and hosts career development events like networking opportunities with big industry partners and mentorship programs. This is very important because studies have shown that fostering connections like these are extremely important in retaining females (and minorities) in the STEM fields, and specifically engineering.
What have you learned in your role as a leader?
I am forever grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a leader for our Rowan community, as I genuinely believe it has helped me build my character and allowed me and my peers to work towards something we believe in and enjoy! I’ve learned how to adapt to new situations — especially with COVID and having to move to a virtual platform mid-semester, the importance of fostering connections and maintaining good relationships with those individuals, and most importantly I’ve learned that so many people are willing to help you bring your ideas to life or to further the mission of your organization, and for that I cannot thank them enough — whether it be faculty and staff at Rowan or people from industry and academia beyond our own university.
What’s your favorite memory as a leader?
My favorite memory as a leader at Rowan has to be being able to help start new outreach programs through SWE and the College of Engineering. It’s really exciting to be a part of something new that will hopefully continue on over the next several years. Our new outreach program – The SWEET program, or Society of Women – Engineers Engineers in Training, is aimed at introducing middle school students to STEM and engineering and getting females interested in it from early on. Our first summer program is going to run virtually this summer, during the month of August. Our SWE team is really hopeful that we can make a positive impact on these young students and give them the confidence to pursue a career in STEM if that is what they’re interested in.
Who inspires you and why?
As a student conducting research in Dr. Vega’s research lab, someone I look up to and am thankful to have as a mentor is my graduate student on the project, Kirstene Gultian, who is getting her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. She accomplishes so much in the lab, while working as a teaching assistant, and helping with extra-curricular programs as well. She’s a strong leader within our lab, able to balance a number of different tasks at once, and always willing to help everyone.
What’s the most significant barrier to women today?
One of the most significant barriers to women today is still representation of females in industry, in the workspace, and in leadership roles. Without the representation, so many women are not given the opportunity to hold leadership positions when compared to their male counterparts due to implicit biases. As such, I think our newest SWE program that we co-founded with PSEG during my time as president is really great in helping female engineering students make industry connections with successful female engineers already working in industry at PSEG.
The program offers mentorship (pairing of SWE students with PSEG mentors) and career advancement events for our SWE members. Through SWE’s international platform, we get to connect with women engineers from all across the world, who offer mentorship and other resources as well, and it is so inspiring to see how much they have and continue to accomplish.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
Something I’ve learned during my leadership positions over the past few years is: Don’t be afraid to just ask! Sometimes you’ll have an idea that seems crazy or hard to organize and you won’t be sure how to make it come to life or if anyone will support you in making it happen, but lots of times if you just ask, you can make it happen!
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