Tiffany Barber wanted to see the country when she graduated from Bishop Noll Institute in Indiana, so she took a truck driving job in 2006 that took her from Nashville, Tennessee, to Bakersfield on her first trip. It also led him to drive trucks in Iraq, where he delivered supplies to US military bases.
After driving trucks for five years, Barber moved to the Central Valley and started his own home daycare business. She didn’t want to miss any more special moments with her son than the first time his daycare provider told her to do something like that.
Barber said, “You can’t drive a truck and pick up kids, so I racked my brains and daycare was really the only thing I could come up with where I could spend time with her and just Could have made money too.”
Still wanting a career with a consistent schedule that provided stability for her and her family, Barber decided in 2012 to go back to school. She took night classes at Fresno City College before transferring to Fresno State in 2017.
As she reflects on these key moments of her journey, Barber prepares to walk the stage as a Fresno State graduate Lyles College of Engineering in function Friday, December 16 at 9:30am Feather satellite student union,
Barber completed his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in the same semester. He is also the student speaker for the ceremony.
“I can’t wait for my kids to be there so they can understand what this means,” Barber said. “They will recognize life as it was before and how it will change dramatically after this, and that will be most gratifying to me.”
In 2013, Barber convinced her mother to move from Indiana to California to help run a daycare and take care of her son and daughter while taking classes. With her help, Barber has managed what sometimes feels like an impossible balance of school, parenting, and internships.
“I’m so excited, I know how hard she’s worked,” said Barber’s mother, Dorothy Golsby. “I remember the times she would get frustrated and sometimes the kids would spend the night with me so she could study but I wanted to see her succeed and I knew as long as I kept pushing her she would get there “
Golsby describes his daughter as a leader and someone who puts her mind to work. She thought engineering was a perfect fit for Barber, who determined after taking a career counseling course at Fresno City College that it was the right career path.
Originally a mechanical engineering major when she transferred, Barber switched to civil engineering with a focus on water during her second semester at Fresno State. She is also an active member of the Fresno State Society of Women Engineers.
“I just love being part of the solution to problems, and we have big issues here in California in water and in electricity and climate change, and I know there is always something I can do to contribute.”
For her senior project, Barber and her classmates worked together to create a desalination plan to reduce salinity in groundwater near a wastewater treatment plant in southwest Fresno. Barber and his team won Best Group Presentation after presenting to industry members who were invited to judge the class presentations.
Barber also recently completed a second internship with PG&E after learning about the opportunity through Power Up, a professional civil engineering series that teaches students about different parts of the industry.
“I spend a lot of time trying to go to PTA meetings, volunteer in my kids’ classes and conduct field trips, and I knew club presidents and 4.0 students would apply so I thought , ‘Why would they choose me?'” Barber said. “When he called, I was shocked.”
During his first internship with PG&E, Barber worked on developing and improving formal work standards in electrical operations. She did technical writing and helped implement a visual management program called Lean, adding visuals and charts to the dashboards the company used to meet upcoming goals.
Barber returned for a second internship, this time in gas operations where she helped the company implement mandates aimed at increasing community safety and helped recommend gas valves to teammates.
Barber said she would like to work for the Department of Water Research for PG&E or design water treatment plans after graduation.
“It’s been a long time in the making,” Barber said. “I feel incredible and my kids love that we no longer have to start movies late.”