‘you are worthy.’ UK grad vows to change the face of engineering | Jobs Vox


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Lexington, Ky. (December 13, 2022) , It’s a sense of accomplishment unlike any other – walking into commencement, holding out your hand for that coveted diploma.

Savannah Lewis has been imagining that moment for a long time. Now, he’s just days away from becoming a University of Kentucky graduate.

As a young girl navigating small town life in Thomson, Georgia, Lewis didn’t know for sure what she wanted to be when she grew up. But he always had a strong interest in mathematics and science – more specifically, a fascination with electricity and astronomy.

Lewis often wondered, “How can I turn that passion into purpose?”

“Since there are hardly any Black engineers in society, it is more difficult for Black kids to see this as a possibility for themselves,” she said. “There are kids who don’t know what they’re passionate about, because they don’t have the resources available to them to be exposed to it.”

Lewis lacked role models in STEM fields, so she didn’t understand the magnitude of their importance. But he had two sources of inspiration—two influential people who taught him the power of persistence.

“When I was in middle school, my parents went back to school to earn their associate degrees,” Lewis continued. “That really inspired me, because my parents didn’t put an expiration date on their dreams.”

So, he decided to follow her.


Lewis devoted herself to school, and when it came time to decide where to continue her education, she wanted a place that would fuel her wildest ambitions – to become an engineer.

Then Britain came knocking.

As a student who often excelled, Lewis was excited for this next challenge. But life away from home proved to be more difficult than she imagined.

“When I first went to college, it was tough. I was seven hours away from my family with hardly any new friends,” Lewis recalled. “Not to mention, I went straight from making all A’s in high school to failing the test in college. It was bittersweet.

As she struggled to find her place and pass pre-calculus, Lewis began to question her future as an engineer. But she continued to study for quizzes, access tutoring resources, and complete homework before due dates—increasing her grade from a “D” to an “A.”

“Knowing that I’ve done it is all the confidence I need to take on the world. In my first year, I looked at all the courses I needed to take, and it seemed almost impossible at first glance. However, I became a successful student in my own way,” Lewis said. “Engineering was a huge learning curve for me, so I couldn’t take 18+ credit hours or stay an AB student each semester. However, I asked for help in every class I took, and I took every opportunity to get involved. From that alone, I know that I can only succeed by always being myself and sticking to a plan.


Lewis has achieved many milestones during his engineering journey, from interning with Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California to being honored with the 2020 Outstanding Junior Award from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

As the first person in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree and study engineering, Lewis describes the feeling as challenging and rewarding.

Now, when she ponders the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, she is resolute in her response. She doesn’t want to be an engineer anymore – she is one.

Following graduation, Lewis will join Beam Suntory (Jim Beam Brands) at their Old Grand Dad Plant in Frankfort, Kentucky as a Process Engineer. “Through BEAM, I have been able to grow as an engineer in a way I never imagined before getting the degree,” she said. “Now I will be joining them full-time in January. I am very excited about it and looking forward to my first professional role.

But Lewis’s aspirations reach far beyond his own personal ambitions. She also wants to help young students realize their potential.

One day, Louise hopes to start a STEM program for students in her hometown. The program will include educational field trips and college preparation. Lewis also wants to start a scholarship fund for graduating seniors at her church.

Ultimately, he believes his journey can and should inspire systemic change.

“If you can dream about it – you can do it. Just because you may be in the minority or differ from the ‘status quo’, doesn’t mean you are not worthy of the ultimate goal,” Lewis said. “Although there will be more challenges because of your differences, a career in STEM is extremely valuable. The opportunities available with a STEM degree are endless and very rewarding. I say go for it.”

The December convocation will be held on Friday, December 16 at the Central Bank Center in Rupp Arena. All the ceremonies will be livestreamed on the YouTube channel of the university.


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