Raquel Miera graduated from Loyola University Chicago in May with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, and in July, she started as an engineering research assistant for the American Dental Association. Before stepping into her first post-grad role, Miera talked with Influential Women in Manufacturing intern Alexandra Ditoro, a current Loyola student, about what inspired her interest in engineering and her outlook as she enters the field.
AD: How did you become interested in engineering?
RM: I knew I wanted to do something science-based, but I wasn’t particularly sure what. I ultimately decided to study engineering because it’s a science that offers more creativity. I wanted a science that would let me channel my creative energy to serve a greater purpose.
AD: Were you nervous about finding a job post-grad?
RM: Yeah, absolutely, I was super-nervous. I was nervous because I was a woman in a male-dominated field and I was worried that would count against me. And also being a minority woman, too. I almost felt like I didn’t deserve to earn a job in the engineering field. And so for that reason I was super-worried that other people and employers thought that, too.
AD: Do you have any expectations for the field?
RM: I’m expecting that I will not be taken seriously. I feel like I’ll have to work twice as hard to move myself, just because I’m a young woman minority coming into the field straight out of undergrad. But hopefully my expectations are wrong.
AD: What about the field you are most looking forward to?
RM: I’m looking forward to the problem-solving and creative thinking that comes with engineering and research and development. I like that I will be in a job that forces me to creatively think every day.
AD: What are you most looking forward to within your job specifically?
RM: Within my job, I think I’ll get to help develop dental engineering standards. I’m looking forward to that because I did do a lot of work studying engineering standards, and I found that really interesting. So I think actually working with those and applying all of the stuff I learned in college will be interesting. And I’m looking forward to doing real engineering work and not just being in a classroom.
AD: What is one of your ultimate career goals?
RM: One of my career goals is (to go) back to school—I would like to get my master’s and maybe Ph.D. just to continue my education. The biggest goal in my career is that I want to know that I have positively impacted someone’s life. I feel like I want to do that moreso through the work that I’m doing so to be able to contribute to research or creating a device or something that would positively benefit and improve a patient’s life.
AD: What advice would you give for a student approaching graduation?
RM: Part of it is just to have faith in yourself. You made it to graduation, so you clearly can do it and you know what you’re doing. Even if there are people telling you that you can’t—you wouldn’t have gotten this far if you couldn’t do it. People don’t just graduate with degrees in engineering and other science fields by luck. You’re clearly meant to be there. Block out anyone who’s telling you that you can’t do it just because you don’t fit the “mold” of what an engineer has been, and just keep moving forward.
Ready to be inspired? Check out the 2019 Influential Women in Manufacturing eBook and join us Oct. 4 in Chicago for the Influential Women in Manufacturing awards luncheon.