Alumna Shares Her Career Path that Led Her to Finding her Passion

Sheena M. White, '06 ME gives keynote speech at the annual SWE dinner
Sheena M. White, '06 ME gives keynote speech at the annual SWE dinner

On November 16, Villanova University’s student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers hosted its eleventh annual networking dinner. This year marked the largest attendance in the event’s history with more than 90 students—both male and female—, a dozen engineering faculty, several alumni and nearly 50 industry professionals. The dinner was sponsored by Harris Corporation, a Florida-based technology company, defense contractor and information technology services provider that recruits and hires many Villanova Engineering students.

SWE Chapter Vice President Katie Rose Scoboria ’18 ME kicked off the evening by greeting and welcoming guests and Chapter President Kristen Poole ’17 CE introduced the keynote speaker, Sheena White, a 2006 Mechanical Engineering alumna. White, who also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, is a Director of Partnership Development at American Express, focused on partnerships for the U.S. consumer business in New York City. White works as a strategist in the firm’s internal consulting group while managing a $10B supermarket and drug store portfolio for the merchant services business. She also co-leads the company’s Black Employee Network, is an active committee member of the Women’s Interest Network, and is highly engaged in recruiting. 

White began her presentation by reflecting on her time as an undergraduate at Villanova. She shared an experience from freshman year when she was certain she wanted to be a computer engineer, but after a summer of interning, learned that it wasn’t the right fit. Nervous about making a switch, she was supported by staff, faculty and peers in declaring mechanical engineering as her new major. Since that moment, White has shifted her perspective on change, reflecting, “I can tell you that this change defined how I realized my truest self when it came to charting my career.” She challenged the attendees to always strive to be the best version of themselves and to do that by seeking out new opportunities, broadening their perspective and welcoming change.

White also recalled leading the initiative to establish a NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) chapter on Villanova’s campus, an experience that helped build her leadership skills. She noted, “I broadened my scope and worked tirelessly to recruit people from all different backgrounds, cultures and majors until we had enough people to start a chapter. Very early on I began to understand the power of relationships.”  

White expressed gratitude for her time at Villanova noting that although she isn’t in an engineering role, she is still using the skills she acquired here, including breaking down complex problems, influencing her leadership team and working effectively in a team environment. White encouraged all students to be true to themselves and pursue their passion, no matter which path they choose.

She wrapped up her presentation by tying in the University’s Augustinian ideals to guide students in finding their passion:

  1. Truth – Be true to yourself by becoming the best version of yourself.
  2. Unity – Seek out opportunities to build new relationships.
  3. Love – Take time to learn what you are passionate about and how you can apply your passion in your career every single day.