The arrival of spring comes with the anticipation of graduating seniors as they experience the end of their college years and plan for a new start. However, as students close one chapter of their lives, some are taking time to reflect on their experiences at Tech.
The Technique recently got an opportunity to talk with Josslyn Lally, fifth-year BMED, who has been involved in numerous organizations throughout her time at Tech, including Tech’s Society of Black Engineers (GTSBE).
Lally currently serves as parliamentarian, but she initially got involved in GTSBE through Lambda Delta Rho (LDR). LDR introduces first-year students to Tech while also providing them with an opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience.
“I’ve been on the [executive] board for the past three years, so I was then LDR chair, secretary and now I’m parliamentarian and membership chair, so that’s my longest standing involvement at Tech,” Lally said.
Outside of her work with GTSBE, Lally has worked for Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) and is on the Office of Undergraduate Education’s student
As a student leader, Lally has found ways to support the intersectionality of race and gender to empower underrepresented students. This includes GTSBE’s annual Black Women in STEAM Program. Last year, this program featured alumni and gave students a chance to learn more about their careers, as well as see how they can still be successful even with a change in career trajectory.
“I think that’s one thing that a lot of Black women fear. Even now in this generation, people are changing trajectories of what they do. They’re like ‘Yeah, I graduated with this degree, but I want to do this later in my life.’ People are strategically planning to change careers later in their life,”
“… I think that’s one fear because it’s already hard to get certain places for Black women, and so knowing this is possible and seeing examples of something, that’s been really nice to highlight over the years.”
Part of the Black Women in STEAM Program can be accessed at gtsbe.org/black-women-in-s.
During Lally’s time at Tech, she has found the Office of Minority Educational Development (OMED) as a large support.
“I was a summer freshman, and I got introduced to OMED really early on in my Tech career and OMED is also the department that houses the Women of Color Initiative, so that’s one of the places I think a lot of … Black students in general really gravitate towards, because there’s all [this] tutoring there,” Lally said. “… They’re [the staff] always there for you, whether it’s, you’re struggling with something financially or just need somebody to talk to, or need advice from a grown adult.”
Besides OMED, Lally discovered the Center for Engineering Education and Diversity (CEED) later on in her Tech career. Lally was involved in undergraduate research her first three years at Tech, and CEED helps to support underrepresented minorities in research and graduate school programs.
CEED also offers mentorship by providing students with advice on a range of topics from finding labs to work in to presenting research at conferences.
Lally pointed out that it is a common misconception that research must be done in the hard sciences fields. However, there are areas of research focused on the experiences of women of color.
“You could focus on the intersectionality in certain areas or experiences in certain places like Tech or in the academic world or becoming a professor, things like that,” Lally said. “I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t really have a lot of knowledge about and know that is possible or think you have to be at a more liberal arts school to do that kind of thing, but it is definitely there.”
Having a more innovative research program could be a way to increase diverse graduate enrollment.
In the BMED department, Professor Manu Platt has been working to grow the graduate program using these ideas, and Lally admires his efforts.
“In order for us to get this diverse set of students coming to the BME graduate program, we have to show them that there’s an endless amount of possibilities for them to explore,” Lally said. “… It’s not just these same things that have always traditionally been explored, but they have freedom to do certain things and then they also feel welcomed in our program and feel like they can make it a home.”
Lally’s inspiration to study BMED comes from her mother, who did biomedical engineering research and would sometimes take Lally to work with her. Now, Lally is a BMED researcher herself and is working for a start-up in Atlanta called OXOS as a marketing associate intern, which suits her interests in medical devices and marketing.
“I like the startup environment a lot, because there’s a lot of opportunity to grow and grow with the company,” Lally said.
Her work as a marketing associate involves a variety of tasks including social media marketing.
“I’m not technically a marketing major, but having the BME knowledge kind of helps me be able to write really good technically for them,” Lally said. This intersection of digital marketing and technical knowledge is valuable, since it helps with understanding the engineering aspects of a company. As she looks back at her time at Tech, one of the changes Lally most wants to see at Tech is improving both external and internal communications.
“A lot of departments are undergoing organizational change, or departments are merging and stuff, and so as those things happen, making sure that’s communicated effectively to students and they know where to find the same resources they’ve been using, but also whatever new is being offered,” Lally said.
There are a lot of possible options the Institute could explore to do this.
“I think that there’s a lot of backend work on making sure that communication is effective and efficient, whether they’re using SGA or getting student leaders together to communicate this to their membership …” Lally remarked.
“Exploring all those options and making sure they’re using them the best way possible is one thing I think would really make a big difference in how things go in terms of student sentiment of change.”
For now though, Lally is spending time reminiscing on her experiences at Tech.
Her favorite spot on campus are the study nooks in the Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences (IBB) staircase, and her favorite off-campus spot is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
Lally is not planning on immediately attending graduate school, although she is not opposed to it.
“Going through Tech, I’m like, ‘Wow, it would be really nice to be able to be a Black female professor in the BME space, because we don’t have that right now here at Tech, and so I always think about that, but I know it’s a long road to PhDs,” Lally said. “I always aspire, but I know sometimes people become a professor of practice and things of that nature.”