20 Mar 2023 Meet a Mentor Monday: Miriah Whitaker
It’s Meet a Mentor Monday and today we’re introducing Miriah Whitaker, a mentor with the Lincoln Prep High School FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1775 Tigerbytes.
Miriah, who earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Missouri S&T, is a Utility Investment Planning Consultant for 1898 and Co. (a division of Burns & McDonnell). In her day job, Miriah uses her data analysis skills to help utility clients build a business case around capital improvements.
“It wasn’t what I expected to be doing when leaving college,” Miriah says. “However, I kept an open mind with every job I had and took opportunities along the way to try new things. This allowed me to find my passion for data and eventually discover a career that was both technical and challenging.”
Miriah advises students to consider college not as a way to define a career but rather as a way to build a foundation for a flexible future.
“I think STEM gives one of the best foundations as you learn to solve challenging and complex problems. Don’t be afraid to try new things and network; one degree or one job doesn’t define your career,” she says. “As you evolve your skills, passion, and experience you begin to determine what you want to do and even then, you can still change and grow with new opportunities.”
Miriah encourages other STEM professionals to recognize just how much they have to offer students as a mentor, even if they don’t have large amounts of time to give:
“I always challenge (potential mentors) to just be present. It is amazing what can happen when you just listen and interact with the students. Mentoring isn’t about having all the answers and it isn’t about being the smartest one there. It is about supporting the students and sharing your perspective. Encouraging a student to do their best and celebrating the successes is sometimes all it takes to make a difference.”
Miriah says consistency matters more than the how much total time one can give to mentoring.
“Coming at a regular cadence can have a huge impact,” she says. “Students get excited to interact with people outside of their day-to-day activities. Engaging with students for just one hour a week helps students begin to see new perspectives and grow their knowledge.”
Outside the FIRST Robotics Competition season, you can find Miriah putting her “nerdy” skills to work as she keeps score during Kansas City Royals baseball games and enjoying her artistic side attending musical theater around Kansas City.