Jena thinks big.

She chose South Dakota Mines because it demanded excellence in the classroom and on the volleyball court.

She chose mechanical engineering because it offered careers spanning automotive to aerospace.

And she chose to take her studies abroad to Germany – twice – because there she could put her passport to use, visiting England, Ireland, Austria, France, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Italy, the last after a paper on 3D printing won her an award.

Even her internships are larger-than-life.

Lehigh Hanson is the ninth largest aggregate mine in the world. Its parent company, HeidelbergCement, is the first.

Out of the 105 employees at Lehigh Hanson, three were women – including Jena, who thrived. The key to succeeding in this space: skills she learned from WiSE.

“WiSE’s professional development programming builds the managerial, communication, and social skills you’ll need in your career. At my internship, one of the things I was really good at was offering solutions after getting everyone’s opinion. I wanted to learn everything and listened – and noticed what people weren’t communicating.”

Jena says discovering her unique perspective was thrilling and underscores the value diversity brings.

A three-year WiSE mentor, she believes the best way to bring more women into STEM is to have young girls just be who they are. “When you look at yourself internally, apart from society, there are a lot of females who would really like what we do.”

Natural interests, innate talent, and insatiable curiosity led Jena here, and they'll catapult her to what’s next: a full-time position at Gerdau in Knoxville, Tennessee.