This news story was originally published in the Spring 2024 edition of Giving Insight, a dedicated communication focused on highlighting future philanthropy in action at Carleton University. Written by: Courtney Buchanan

Role models and mentors can have a significant impact on a student’s post-secondary experience. For Pauline Kehoe (BEng/79, MEng/85), one professor helped encourage and guide her to graduating with an engineering degree.

Pauline began her undergraduate studies at Carleton in civil engineering in 1975, where she was one of the few female students in her classes.

Photo credit: Pauline Kehoe

Throughout her first semester, Pauline describes getting “cold feet” about if she could handle the heavy workload while working part time. She reluctantly began the process of switching out of the engineering program.

Professor Juan Salinas noticed Pauline’s absence in his class. Pauline describes Professor Salinas as a passionate, and relatable professor. “He was full of energy,” she says, “he really did get to know his students.”

Professor Salinas asked to speak with Pauline, wondering why she was transferring programs. “When he asked why, I sputtered that I thought I was going to fail,” she says, “he emphatically reassured me that I was not going to fail and that I was doing great, and to stick with engineering. I really did want to be an engineer.”

Professor Salinas made time to proctor all the midterm exams Pauline had missed. “He did not have to do that, but he did, and it got me caught up and back on track.”

Pauline says this encouragement and support was a pivotal moment in her academic career.

Pauline continued in the program, becoming President of the Civil Engineering Society, placing top 10 in her class, and later pursued her master’s degree. She had a remarkable career as a transportation engineer, and later worked as a Senior Executive in government.

Pauline says her work in International Development reinforces her message that women can have rewarding careers in engineering in so many venues. “I think women bring huge value to the workplace in these areas”, she explains.

Since retiring, Pauline wants to give back to first year women engineering students through the establishment of the Pauline Kehoe Bursary in Engineering.

Creating a bursary for first year students through a gift in her will was especially important since in her experience, the first year can be a challenging adjustment.

“I know first year can be a shock for students academically, and the funding part is equally challenging. I am hoping a financial contribution will ease their burden somewhat, and that my story of perseverance might boost their confidence. I want to give back and show my appreciation.”

Monday, April 29, 2024 in , , , , ,
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