Why are you doing engineering? Are you sure you should be doing this? Aren’t you the only girl?

These are only a few of the questions that are regularly sent my way from friends, peers, and family when I mention I am studying mechanical engineering. It is hard not to be disheartened by them. I often feel like they are wearing my confidence down with each answer I give.

Before I sent off my final application on Christmas Eve, the possibility of becoming a finalist seemed like an accolade that was almost out of reach. However, as soon as I realised that the only thing holding me back were the questions I had heard to many times, ‘Are you sure you can do this?’, I sent off my application.

The experience the award provided me with was a whirlwind of adrenaline and excitement. From receiving the call notifying me I was in the top 20 to presenting a pitch on diversity to the manufacturing engineering executive at Rolls Royce, there was not a moment I could afford to doubt myself.

To me, this award shows that there is a place for all women to excel in engineering – that believing in yourself is the first step to realising your potential. It is more than a reflection of what I have achieved so far; it’s a push to know that this is only just the beginning. This award is something that enables many females to believe that they have a place in STEM that cannot be undermined by anyone else’s questioning.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have gained through winning STEM Female Undergraduate of the Year with Rolls Royce – to undertake a summer internship with Rolls Royce. I am excited to immerse myself in industry, working with likeminded engineers on the forefront of engineering development.

My advice to future applicants is to never undermine your potential, regardless of what people have said to you. Give yourself permission to be successful. This can be applied beyond taking up opportunities like this award but elsewhere in life. No one should be made to feel like they are not enough. Through this experience, I have gained confidence in what I am pursuing in my career. I cannot wait to continue inspiring women in STEM throughout the rest of my career.