I arrived at Auburn in the fall of 1978. It was the tail-end of the great social revolution begun in the 1960s, and the beginning of what I considered the “bland standardization” of American youth. It was the dawn of the IZOD shirt, khaki skirts, button-down blouses and add-a-bead necklaces. We saw the birth of the Young Republicans and the growth of conservatism on campus. I came as a iconoclastic female engineering student, sporting my unfashionable jeans and eschewing social clubs. When I graduated in 1982 women engineers were still somewhat of a rarity.
My time at Auburn strengthened my resolve to use my career to serve mankind for the better. I thought I’d abandoned that ideal for monetary gain when I went to work for an oil company. Years later I realized that those developmental years were so very necessary to equip me to lead a new kind of revolution. I was on the cutting edge of Process Safety Management. That work eventually landed me in Washington, DC, where since 2002 I’ve served the American people by investigating and working to prevent catastrophic industrial accidents, and to improve the resiliency of critical infrastructure.