Spotlight on Social and Natural Sciences Alumni: Rebecca Baier
Name: Rebecca Baier
Occupation: Electrical engineering student at the University of Maryland
Major while at UR: Linguistics
Current city/state of residence: Greenbelt, MD
Community activities: Tutoring and mentoring
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was a part of InterVarsity Christian fellowship, fencing and Grassroots. I also worked at the post office and as a TA in Lingusitics, and I studied abroad in Ghana. Study abroad had the biggest impact on me, and gave me the chance to interact with people I probably couldn’t have met otherwise. On campus activities also developed a great sense of community and led to great friendships.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
Joyce McDonough and Jeff Runner. Over the years we’ve kept in touch and it’s been great to get together when that’s possible.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I started working for the University of Maryland Linguistics Department in the fall after graduating. I really wanted to work in linguistics and use my degree, and I was lucky enough to get a position working in a language acquisition research lab. Before moving to Maryland, I spent the summer in Rochester and worked on research projects with Joyce McDonough.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I chose to go back to school for electrical engineering. I like math and looked for ways I could combine my language and math interests – and EE is where they do speech technology. Since I was working at the university I could take classes part time for a while before I decided to go for it full time. I’ll graduate in a year so I’m going though the process again of deciding where I’d like to work next.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
I limit the extracurricular commitments I make in order to keep stress low while I’m working and taking classes. I look forward to graduating and having more free time to jump back into activities, but for now I’ve learned my lesson that I’m happier keeping life simple. I like having free time to socialize, cook, bike, make pottery…or just stay in and watch a movie if it’s been a busy week.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I hope to have found a good niche for myself as an engineer by then, and maybe I’ll be pursuing a grad degree. I’m taking things one step at a time though since I have a lot of decisions to make about focusing my degree and getting internships to see what I like to do.
How are you still connected with the University?
I have great friends from Rochester, now living all over the country. I also have family in Rochester and I enjoy visiting the University when I’m in the area. Of course I get alumni mail and emails, too that keep me in the loop.