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Mehrdokht Allayarki

Dear First Year Me,

First things first, please, please, please do not dye your hair blonde. Not only is it not the most flattering look for your beautiful skin tone, but bleaching one’s hair is better left to professionals!

You have started a journey that is going to be difficult and there will be many moments when you would want to call it off, turn your back and find yourself a new dream. Those moments will pass. From the first failing grade to that transfer course you will have to have a second go at…it will pass. Along this way, not only will you learn math, science and technology, but a new life style, a new perspective, and a new approach to life. You will learn to see the problems for the way they are, to assess what has been given to you, and to create solutions when there are none in sight. This skill, which you will build in next four years, will come in handy in and out of the classroom. Speaking of the classroom, I know how you feel right after stepping into your first class. You are excited and nervous, wondering how the class is going to be. What’s the professor like? Have I got what it takes? And many more questions are boiling in your head like a stew… but once you step in, a new thought pushes everything else aside for a second….”Oh. God, they were not kidding about the gender ratio…” Yep, you knew this was coming and you told yourself that it’s no big deal, this is 2011, female engineers have been around for years… and yet, you did feel a little frightened didn’t you? You feel a sudden urge to try harder to prove yourself, as if you had to show that you are just as good as any guy in that room. You will start to notice almost none of your professors are ladies and the lack of female washrooms are going to bother you a bit once the engineering building (JHE) becomes your second home, but believe me little one (lol, you are a drama queen and you know it, so stop laughing you “too cool to act along” teenager!!!) as long as you give it your all, bring your best ideas to the table, and be a good team player, you will succeed. Engineering is about being a good observer, problem solver and team player, and gender won’t even matter. Of course you will cross pass with a few who would try to put you down or dismiss your ideas or concerns solely based on your lack of chromosome Y. Even they have something to teach you. You will learn to remain professional, calm, and collected. Trust me, there are very few people like that tout there and the beauty of engineering is its association with math and logic, and once you present your work and proof, no one can question your work or dare to rob you of credit. There is so much to say, but there is no way of summarizing this amazing journey in a letter or even a book. Plus I don’t want to spoil the joy of exploring for you! Stay focused, stay active and enjoy life. It’s going to be a tough, life changing journey and you will have a time of your life.


Senior You


Hello, my name is Mehrdokht Allayarkia, everyone calls me Mary though. I am a fourth year chemical engineering student with a minor in econ. I have a cat named Loki who is indeed the God of Mischief and as you can see does not like selfies! I try to keep an active social life and volunteer as much as I can which is why I’m going to finish my bachelor in five years rather than four to help me maintain good academic standings along with time to dedicate to my after school activities and crafts. I knit and make bead jewelry and accessories. I feel like crafts and arts make help me unwind and relax, which comes in handy when one is studying engineering! It’s been quite a journey and I am close to the finish line.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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