Hi! My name is Melissa and I am currently a Network Engineering and Security Analyst student. I just completed an 8-month work term as an IT Technician at a local school board. I also have an Advanced National Diploma in Biomedical Technology. As a Medical Lab Technologist, I got to work in various laboratories, doing diagnostic tests on human specimens. The labs I worked in includes, Microbiology, Clinical Chemistry, Hematology, Histology, and Blood Transfusion.
Name: Melissa Gardiner
Alma Mater: Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Mohawk College
STEM Career Path: Biomedical Technologist and Network Engineering
Who/What inspired you to become interested in engineering?
MG: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been curious about how and why things work the way they do. In high school, I had a love for math and biology and naturally gravitated towards the medical field. I think had I been exposed to computer science at this point, I would more than likely have pursued it as a career. It was only later on in life, after being a stay at home mom for 8 years, that I discovered my passion for Information Technology, specifically Network Engineering.
What has been the most interesting part of your career?
MG: Being new to the Network Engineering field, I was quite surprised by the amazingly supportive and motivated community of individuals that I have encountered. Engineers, Teachers, Content creators, and fellow students have reached out to me and shared their knowledge and advice. This was quite interesting and unexpected, and I am very thankful for it!
Why do you feel It is important to get more women/girls into STEM fields?
MG: Currently, women are greatly underrepresented in STEM fields. I believe this is partly due to negative stereotypes that still exist and also a lack of awareness. Women are capable of bringing fresh, innovative ideas, new perspectives and methodologies that could immensely benefit everyone. As women in STEM fields, sharing our journey and passion for our careers will go a long way in proving to other women and girls, that you can thrive and have a successful career in male-dominated industries.
If you could sit down and have a conversation with one woman in STEM who would it be and why?
MG: Without question Marian Croak! Marian is currently the VP of Reliability Engineering for YouTube. In 2013 she was inducted into the Women in Technology International hall of fame. She has also been granted over 100 patents in relation to VOIP (Voice Over IP) Technologies. I would love to meet her and talk about her journey, especially since she describes herself as being “very soft-spoken” just like me!
What are you mostly looking forward to on your engineering journey?
MG: Since I am still a student, I am most excited about my very first job as an engineer! Being able to say, “Hi, I’m Melissa and I’m the Network Engineer” is what I look forward to most.
Best Advice You Have Ever Received?
MG: The best advice that I try to incorporate into my daily life comes in the form of a quote by Lisa Nichols - “Fear is not meant to stop you, it’s meant to wake you up, to keep you up at night preparing and prepping for your goals.” So often the fear of failure or the fear of not being good at something has made me question my path. This quote has helped me to redirect that energy of fear, into positive action driven towards my goals.
Fun Fact about you.
MG: I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa and I am one of seven siblings!
For young women interested in pursuing laboratory technology and engineering how can they get started?
MG: I would suggest attending college and university open houses and also try and job shadow if possible. Seeing the day to day tasks on the job could be quite valuable in deciding a career path. Finding a mentor in laboratory technology or engineering would also be super helpful!
Thank You Melissa For Being Such A Great Inspiration!
Stay Connected with Melissa on her Social Media: