New alumna, tutor of the year reflects on the great mentorship from her time at Illinois
May 7, 2021
In my department and the college, I have had the opportunity to find mentors that were able to motivate and encourage me throughout my undergraduate career. Aerospace faculty members such as Dr. Tess Saxton-Fox and Dr. Laura Villafane-Roca have been influential role models to me especially as I’ve needed advice and guidance while applying to graduate schools. They both also got involved with Women in Aerospace (WIA) when I was president to help advocate for women and other gender minorities at the faculty level. Their dedication to my success and happiness is something that made my experience in the department worthwhile. As I pursue my own career as a future professor, I hope I can inspire my own students the way they have inspired me. I’ve also had other mentors, such as Laura Gerhold, Dana Tempel, and Gretchen Forman (among others) that have supported me unconditionally in my endeavors through my involvement in the department, my role as an Engineering Learning Assistant, and my experience being a Center for Academic Resources in Engineering (CARE) tutor.
Prioritize your mental well-being. It might be difficult sometimes to put yourself first but the sooner you learn how to do that then the better things will be later. Learning to take care of yourself is a skill that you will use throughout college and beyond. If you find yourself struggling academically and it begins to affect your mental health, there are resources that can help, such as CARE. Getting involved in RSOs and on-campus jobs is also a great way to develop your own support network of peers and mentors that you can go to when things get tough. Surrounding yourself with good friends and role models helps keep you motivated to succeed, especially during times when you don’t really believe you can. Being in a healthy state of mind just makes everything a little easier, so make sure you put that first. Take risks, fail, and be resilient.
Emily Williams is a 2021 Aerospace Engineering graduate and was named the 2021 Tutor of the Year by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.