Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A proud day for the family

When I first met Katherine she was a chubby little girl who was just starting her teen years. What a world of difference between that little girl and the mature young woman who displayed confidence and poise yesterday in a pressure situation. Along with her mother, brother and grandfather, Maribel and I had the privilege of attending Katherine’s thesis presentation for her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.  This day would be either the culmination of over five years of study while working part-time, or a step back involving six or more months of study and a complete new thesis.

The presentation took place in a university classroom where attendance was limited to a few family members and a three-judge panel comprised of in this case her sponsoring professor, the director of the school of engineering, and a professor who had had no prior exposure to Katherine.

Katherine presented an actual case study she had researched over the past year involving a small business that was interested in improving procedures and methodologies in all aspects of their operation. She began with company background and then using slides outlined areas identified as candidates for improvement, followed by specific recommendations, cost-benefit analysis, and conclusion. During her presentation the male member of the panel, who was her sponsor sat back and listened intently while the two women judges were constantly writing notes in their copies of the thesis.

When Katherine had finished the critique began. Her sponsor started by praising her presentation but then followed with criticisms of some aspects of the study. Probably to be expected the school of engineering director was the most critical of the three judges, questioning Katherine’s support for some of the conclusions she had reached. When there were no more questions or comments we were asked to step outside while the panel deliberated for approximately twenty minutes. While outside we talked about the heat, the recent earthquake, where to go for lunch….everything but the presentation and what those judges might be deciding.

When we reentered the classroom the faces of the judges gave no indication of what they had decided. It wasn’t until the director rose, congratulated Katherine and presented her with the ceremonial stole and engineering medallion that we knew her thesis was accepted…she had earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.

Katherine is happy with her diploma, but I think she knew she had nailed that thesis and wasn’t worried. She has already talked with her employer about plans to enter a master’s degree program. She is an intelligent, mature and confident young woman who knows exactly what she wants and has the ability and determination to get it.

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