My name is Keara Dunshee and I’m from Tucson, Arizona where I graduated from Catalina Foothills High School. I’m currently a senior at SMU studying Civil Engineering with a minor in Management Science. When choosing schools, I knew I was planning on majoring in engineering, however finding the right school to spend the next four years was a challenge. I was immediately impressed with the state of the art facilities at the Lyle School of Engineering, and the fact that students in the engineering school didn’t seem like the stereotypical engineering “nerds”. The students were outgoing, involved in campus activities and seemed to really enjoy their lives at SMU. This was a school that produced well-rounded, intelligent students who worked hard academically but also enjoyed the fun of college life. Now, four years later I can confidently say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Trying to decide which activities to get involved in on campus was one of the most difficult choices to make after settling on my major. There are many different clubs to join, but only so many hours in the day! I knew that getting involved in the professional organization American Society of Civil Engineers would be an important part of my time here at school. When I joined, it was a relatively new organization on SMU’s campus, and on a whim I decided to accept an officer position in this club I knew very little about. With a whole new group of officers, we decided to take ASCE to the next level and try to utilize all the great things it had to offer.
Over the next year, we participated and placed in two national competitions for the first time, including the Steel Bridge Competition and the GeoTech Challenge. We planned meetings with guest speakers and emphasized the importance of networking-- who knows, maybe I’ll get a job in the future with someone I’ve met through ASCE. Currently, I hold the position of President in the organization. We continue to grow and involve ourselves on campus in volunteer opportunities and networking events; we even got to take a private tour of the under-construction Bush Library from the Project Manager of the development.
Through the Lyle School of Engineering, I was also able to obtain a part-time internship fall of my junior year. The job was with a small, local structural engineering firm called Evergreen Structures, LLC. The owner and founder of this company was a Lyle grad himself, and came back to SMU to find interns because he knew it produces high-caliber, employable students. During the internship, I was able to get valuable, hands-on experience in AutoCAD, writing reports and visiting job sites. This summer, I worked a full-time internship with Atkins Global in their Transportation Tolls department. I felt that my Lyle education had fully prepared me for the position, and even put me a step ahead of the other interns who came from other universities and hadn't had as much training in the "soft skills" that I’ve had at SMU.
Being involved in activities outside of engineering was a very important part of the college experience for me. A large part of that has come from my membership in the sorority Chi Omega where I hold an executive position. With my job, I oversee the planning of philanthropic events, formals, tailgates, sisterhood activities, etc. Its allowed me to make friends with so many great girls that I otherwise wouldn’t have met, and helps me balance an engineering curriculum while maintaining a social life. Its made me a better public speaker, and taught me how to delegate tasks and run and organize weekly meetings. Outside of Chi Omega, I also participate in intramural basketball, hold a position in Chi Epsilon, an engineering honor society, and love being outside and running through the beautiful neighborhoods surrounding SMU in my free time.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I am confident that my time at SMU has made me a more intelligent, well-rounded person, ready to take on engineering challenges in the future. I’ve developed not only my math and science skills, but equally important social and communication skills as well. The Lyle Engineering School has so much to offer, all you have to do is take advantage of it.