ACE Mentor of Greater Philadelphia is fortunate to have a selection of alumni who have returned to share their experiences and knowledge with current students. Team 15 is lucky enough to have two. Jennifer Yun (JKRP Architects) and Ajin Fatima (City of Philadelphia, Streets Department) both jumped at the opportunity to join JKRP’s all-female ACE Mentor team when provided the invitation.
Jen Yun, an architectural designer, first joined ACE in her junior year at Hershey High School. “As a child, I loved to draw and expressed an interest in the fine arts or fashion design. My father encouraged me to look into architecture which put me on the path to ACE,” Yun explained.
Ajin Fatima joined the ACE Mentor program from Carver High School of Engineering and Science in the tenth grade because she knew that she wanted to work in an environment focused around math and science. The ACE Mentor Program was a natural fit.
Once in the program, their mentors helped both women to understand the A/C/E fields and what a career in one might look like. “They helped me to understand what to expect and how I could see myself in a design role in the future. I began to see the possibility of working with others and being recognized for my ideas and contributions,” said Yun.
Fatima agreed, “Through ACE I learned about engineering and heard about day-to-day experiences from professionals in the field and I gained more knowledge about civil engineering. I soon realized how diverse the applications were and my interest grew. My mentors also helped me to learn about college and what needed to be done to get there.”
In her senior year, Yun received an ACE scholarship and shortly thereafter began her undergraduate (and later her graduate) studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Fatima also won an ACE Scholarship and attended Drexel University where she studied Civil Engineering, “Bridges and buildings fascinated me ever since childhood; civil engineering seemed like the perfect way to apply math and science to building,” she said.
At a career fair, Yun met JKRP Architects and the culture appealed to her. “I am very happy with my choice to work with JKRP. I value working with people and I truly enjoy collaborating with my colleagues. At the end of the day, the work is very rewarding.”
Within a few months of joining JKRP, Yun was approached to join their all-girls ACE mentoring team and happily obliged. “I wanted to give back to show the girls there is lots of opportunity for them,” she said. Fatima also decided to mentor in an effort to give back, “I wanted to pass along and share the stories about how I got to where I am as well as ‘pay it back’ by giving to others what I got out of the ACE program.”
It did not take long before Yun was asked to step into the role of Team Leader. She admits the decision to accept was partially influenced by her past. “When I was in the ACE program in High School, my team was male-dominated. Being a part of this lack of diversity was challenging and, at times, intimidating. I wanted to provide young women who are interested in the A/C/E fields with a comfortable, supportive experience,” she exclaimed. “We have an enthusiastic, great group of girls. They aren’t forced to be there – they want to be a part of our team.”
“Our girls are unaware of what opportunities there are out there for them. I love being a mentor to these young women – they are all smart and consistently exceed our expectations,” Fatima added. “I have been able to answer their questions about college and write recommendations. I understand the importance of having someone guide you toward your future and I am happy to help them.”
Yun concurs “Philadelphia has a close network of people in our field who are willing to help. This is a valuable community to be a part of and I enjoy doing my part to show that aspect of our profession to these young ladies.”