inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Caeley Looney

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai

Happy Tuesday Reigners! We love meeting women with unique majors, and are excited to highlight Caeley Looney, a sophomore at Embry-Riddle studying Aerospace Engineering! Read on about her space ambitions, how she came to be brave and ask questions in class, and the advice that Momma G bestowed upon her (which warms my heart)!

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
My name is Caeley Looney and I’m a sophomore studying Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University!  I am absolutely in love with rocketry and space mechanics, but I try to get to hackathons whenever I can so I can still pursue my passion for computing.  Fun Fact: My favorite color is periwinkle.
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What # would define your life journey?
The nerd in me tells me that the number 42 would have to define my life journey because according the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Favorite website / app:
My favorite app is SnapChat because over the course of my time in college I have had the privilege of traveling all around the nation going to conferences and events, and meeting some amazing people.  SnapChat is a way to keep in touch and I still get to see them every day.  For instance, all of the amazing young women I went to Code Camp with are also my friends on SnapChat and whenever I am about to head into a hard class or just simply laying in bed bored, it’s an easy and fun form of communication to keep in contact with everyone.
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Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Someone who inspires me is Gloria Kimbwala (who we affectionately call Momma G). After being our Code Camp mom and getting to know her personality during my time at Square, I was inspired not only by her confidence and desire to always pursue her dreams, but by how accepting she was of our diverse personalities, learning styles, and level of knowledge.  Something that she taught me is that it is 100% ok to be ourselves and that, in fact, we shouldn’t be anyone else.  It doesn’t matter what we look like, where we come from, and what we know.  All that matters is that we don’t stop reaching for our dreams and that we don’t let anything get in our way or try to push us down.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Confident by Demi Lovato
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Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
One technical challenge that I have faced, as well as many other women in technology, is dealing with gender ratios in class.  Unfortunately, the ratio between how many men and women are studying engineering degrees still has a bit of way before becoming equal. In one of my engineering courses last semester, I was one of two girls in class.  I was terrified to raise my hand and ask questions because I was scared that someone might think it was a “stupid question.”  My confidence dropped and I noticed that I really wasn’t understanding what the processes were in solving the homework problems, etc.  And it was all because I wasn’t confident enough to ask for help or clarification in class.  So my solution was to go to the professor’s office hours and ask him for help without feeling pressured by my classmates.  After asking him questions, I learned that a number of the male students in my class actually had similar questions.  And learning this gave me the confidence to start speaking up in class, which eventually got my grades back up and I passed the class with flying colors.

Ideal Job:
My ideal job would either be working as a Systems Engineer for Space Operations, whether it be rocket launches, satellite systems, or space vehicles, or eventually running my own software company.
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What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
My advice to women going through their engineering degree or trying to figure out if engineering is their cup of tea, is to just be yourself.  I can’t tell you that engineering and computer science is the right field for you, but if you find yourself enjoying it, then it should absolutely be something you consider.  You can’t let anything or anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams and interests.  It doesn’t matter if other people think your questions are “stupid” or if other people look at you and think you aren’t as good as they are because of your race or gender.  You have to stick to who you are, stick to what your passions are, not let anyone stop you, and reach out to help if you need it.  There are some great and supportive communities out there that can help advise you on what to do next if you’re stuck, such as Square Code Camp Alumni, NCWIT, and Ladies Storm Hackathons.  But, don’t give up on your interest in engineering/computing just because someone told you that you don’t belong, because they don’t get to make that decision for you, only you do.
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