Class of 2013 Shout-out: Thank You RPI!

Headshot by Jacob Blaquiere ’13


Media Relations

May 21, 2013

Class of 2013 Shout-out: Thank You RPI!

Soon-To-Be Graduate Shares a Letter on How the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Society of Women Engineers Transformed Her Life and Experience at Rensselaer

Soon-To-Be Graduate Shares a Letter on How the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Society of Women Engineers Transformed Her Life and Experience at Rensselaer

Cary Ann Kaczowka is a member of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Class of 2013. On Saturday, May 25, she will be one of 1,676 students who will receive degrees. Kaczowka, a native of Seekonk, Mass., was a dual major in mechanical engineering and design, innovation and society.

While at Rensselaer, she also carved out time to join the Society of Women Engineers, an organization that she credits with “guiding her through the new world of college,” and one where she served as president. Before leaving, she had some parting words that she wanted to share with the campus. Upon graduation, Kaczowka will head to Seattle, Wash., to the Boeing Company, and will work in their Engineering Career Foundation Program.

Dear RPI,Thank you for the countless opportunities you’ve given us! I have learned more than I could have ever anticipated over the past four years. To my surprise, much of that learning took place outside the classroom.As freshmen, we soaked up returning students’ advice. It began with my mentor from the Women’s Mentor Program who helped guide me through this new world called college. Pretty soon afterward, I joined the organization that would come to consume most of my free time: the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). When I attended my first officers’ meeting, I was soon overwhelmed; these young women do a lot. But, I also noticed that they handled themselves so professionally, and each one of them has since moved on to exciting careers that interest them.

This group of young women was one of the best resources a new student could have hoped for. Each of them was happy to mentor classmates, and it was through them that I attended a workshop about registering for classes. During these workshops, I had an opportunity to meet and speak openly with upperclassmen of different majors, two of whom were dual majoring in mechanical engineering and design, innovation, and society (DIS). They were passionate about their program, and confident that it was one of the best decisions they had ever made. 

I guess in some way, their passion and interest for the program rubbed off on me. The following semester I enrolled in my first studio course to pursue the same dual degree. This group of people – 30 DIS students in each class year, faculty, and alum – has challenged me in the best ways. We have learned to step outside of our comfort zones (my first group project focused on a gender-neutral urinal), to support each other, and to recognize that we truly can make a change in the world. A graduate of the program also told a few of us that one of his best decisions was becoming a teaching assistant, which inspired some of us to do the same. There were so many occasions that we found to share our experiences with new students, and help them reach their goals while learning a lot about ourselves.There are so many mentors who have supported us graduates along the way, many of whom we met through our academic programs and student clubs; we would not be who we are today without their encouragement and tireless devotion. Over the years, hearing the various student, staff, and faculty mentors talk about my “drive and enthusiasm for serving in a leadership role” has helped me to also realize that I get the most out of helping others.

This week, I found myself reflecting on how SWE has been a large part of my life and experience at RPI. I recall the annual golf clinic I began at Saratoga National Golf Course to inspire fun with networking; teaching young Girl Scouts about buoyancy and density during a SWE-hosted engineering day event; participating in a free skate event hosted by SWE and several Rensselaer student-run professional organizations; and attending many of the SWE annual and regional conferences.

During my first year at Rensselaer, I remember a SWE member saying that she could see me taking on a much larger leadership role. Over the years, several also talked about the potential they saw in me, something that I did not see in myself at the time.

Today, with graduation around the corner, I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to not only learn from my mentors, but also to serve as a mentor as well. Those words of encouragement have done wonders to boost my self-confidence and belief that I can make a difference in the world.

So as I leave RPI, it is with excitement. It is now time for us graduates to leave RPI and to make our mark. I know that our seats will soon be filled with some very talented classmates, who have so much promise. I cannot wait to see what they will do!I want to thank you, RPI, and my family for supporting my efforts without any reservation! Four years went by too quickly. I will miss you RPI!


Cary Ann KaczowkaRensselaer Polytechnic Institute Class of 2013B.S. Mechanical Engineering & Design, Innovation, and SocietyPast President, RPI Society of Women Engineers


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