Starting a Career

February 09, 2011

Electrical engineering major Skye Vendt-Pearce

"It was a great honor just to be selected, such a surprise and such a nice one," said Skye Vendt-Pearce, recipient of an Amy Beth Snader Memorial Scholarship. Vendt-Pearce, an electrical engineering major used the scholarship funds to purchase a laptop. "It has been awesome to be mobile with my studies," she said.

Snader Scholarships are awarded to women in engineering on the basis of merit. The fund, which was established by Barbara Snader in memory of her daughter Amy (Merrill '83), is primarily funded through a planned gift. Amy Snader earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and went on to a highly successful career as a software engineer.

"I feel that the work I have done in the Baskin School of Engineering has definitely prepared me for life in the 'real world' of the profession," said Vendt-Pearce, who already has the experience to prove it. Two years ago she started working during summer and winter breaks for a large electrical contracting firm in San Jose that designs systems for residential, commercial, and educational buildings. "I really like the company and industry I'm in. I feel like I'm starting on my career right when I graduate," said Vendt-Pearce, who has already lined up a full-time job with the firm and is planning to work toward a professional engineer's license.

An accomplished athlete who grew up in Sonoma, Vendt-Pearce was primarily attracted to UC Santa Cruz by two factors: the electrical engineering major and the soccer program. The Cowell College student found the campus a perfect fit. "I think electrical engineering is a great program, with lots of faculty interaction and opportunities to collaborate with your classmates, and that's a great way to learn," she said. In addition to undertaking the rigorous electrical engineering major, she participated in the Education Abroad Program, studying electronics at the University of Kent in England.

Although Vendt-Pearce noticed there were often few women in her classes, she never felt out of place. "I really appreciate the scholarship donors' dedication to provide opportunities for women in engineering," she said. "With more scholarships like these, hopefully the number of women engineers will increase."