What did you gain in TSA?
I joined AIASA/TSA in a time when significantly fewer girls participated. In fact, when I was first assigned to an industrial arts class in junior high, I begged my parents to allow me to change my schedule to chorus or home economics—any class that may have been considered more “for girls.” Fortunately, they forced me to stay in the industrial arts class. I was blessed to have an amazing teacher who encouraged me to join AIASA/TSA.
My participation in the organization helped me to develop leadership and technical skills that are so valuable in life and explore many career options. At the 1988 Georgia TSA State Conference awards program, my advisor, Gene Nix, received the Jim Coffey Inspirational Teacher Award. It was an honor sponsored by Harvey Dean of PITSCO, in recognition of his industrial arts teacher. As Mr. Nix received that award, I remember the pride felt by our chapter. At that moment, I decided I would follow in his footsteps and hoped that one day I, too, could be the inspirational role model to others that he was to us.
I am currently in my 25th year of teaching engineering and technology education. I have been fortunate to serve on the Georgia TSA Board of Directors/Advisory Council for multiple terms; worked on the host team when the National TSA Conference in Atlanta in 2000 and in 2018; mentored multiple state officers; and had the honor of being the TSA advisor to so many wonderful students. In 2001, I was elected the first female president of GITEA, the Georgia Industrial Technology Education Association (now GETEA).
AIASA/TSA made me realize problem-solving and applying math and science has no gender boundaries. Per its creed, the organization has also instilled in me a desire to always “accept the responsibilities that are mine,” “to do better each day the task before me,” and to make my “school, community, state, and nation better places in which to live.”
What advice do you have for current TSA student members?
Take advantage of any opportunity that you have in TSA, especially if the opportunity pushes you or takes you out of your comfort zone. I will never forget the anxiety I experienced when my advisor encouraged me to participate in Extemporaneous Speech; however, forcing myself to do something that terrified me, helped me identify and hone strengths I did not know I had.
Also, make friends at the conferences and network beyond your local chapter. These contacts will be so valuable as you begin life in the real world. As an advisor, I still do exactly that. I love the interaction and comradery between advisors and alumni. Almost daily, I communicate with individuals I probably would have never met had it not been for my involvement in TSA.
Once you graduate, please keep your TSA advisor updated on where you are and what you are doing. I cannot describe the pride I feel when I hear a student has passed a bar exam, received a higher rank in the military, or become an engineering teacher. I love attending weddings and holding the babies of my former students. (Although it does hurt to hear, “My mom said, ‘Hi’. You were her teacher!”) Remember, your advisors love you and when you succeed, it makes us proud.