Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2020
Michaela Pawlowski grew up around computers. She watched her dad work with computers and gained an understanding of their foundation at a young age and it foreshadowed her enthusiasm for information technology as a student.
“There wasn’t a particular ‘aha!’ moment because I already knew that this is what I wanted to do,” says Pawlowski. “It was interesting, however, to see the gaps in my knowledge fill in as I progressed through my courses. Everything clicked.”
Pawlowski has been working as an intern for Engineering Technical Services for the past year.
“I have learned a wealth of valuable information working for Engineering Technical Services with the hands-on, real-world experience that they have provided,” she says. “Working there has given me an edge that I wouldn’t have received from my coursework alone.”
Pawlowski also served as an officer and vice president of NerdHerd, the information technology club on Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus.
“While working for NerdHerd, I helped arrange club meetings, create budgets, create club media and recruit students,” she says. “If students from my classes had questions about getting involved, I was the one to help them.”
For the New American University President’s Award recipient, studying engineering was life-changing because it always begged the question, “what’s next?”
“There is always something to be excited about,” she says. “When one product launches, industries are already working on the next best thing and I think that’s admirable. The grind never stops.”
Pawlowski says one particular professor who has helped her grow tremendously as a student — Lecturer Damien Doheny, a lecturer and undergraduate program chair for the information technology in The Polytechnic School, one of the six schools of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
“He inspired me to continue bettering myself and encouraged me to apply for the internship program,” Pawlowski says. “Never once did I doubt that he cared about his students because he always went the extra mile to provide the support that they needed. He also mentored my capstone project.”
Engineering remains intriguing for Pawlowski because she feels like she is working on something bigger than herself.
“When I step back and look at the bigger picture, I get those mind-blowing, ‘Wow… I did that,’ moments. There is nothing like it,” she says.
For next steps, Pawlowski plans to gain more IT experience in Arizona she will begin working full-time as a system administrator at Vertech in January.
“After I get a few more years of work experience under my belt, I’d like to come back to school for a master’s degree,” she says. “More than anything, I want to be a part of a team. I want to build something, with someone, for someone.”