While many students find their way to engineering because of a penchant for math and science, Maegan Cedro says it’s her communications skills, curiosity, and willingness to ask for help that make her stand out as a future engineer. It’s an approach that’s earned her numerous opportunities already, including internships at national automotive and aerospace companies. Another one of her passions: Advocating for folks in her Filipino-American community, including as a student organizer for a national organization of Filipino-American students. She hopes to continue that advocacy once she’s out in the workforce, by organizing resource groups for Asian Americans and mentoring younger people interested in engineering fields.
Maegan, in her own words
In engineering, communication can’t be an afterthought. “When I got into college, I still didn’t know about all the careers you could have in engineering. But I had a friend reach out and ask if I wanted to check out the student team he was on. They built race cars, and even though I didn’t know anything about cars, I decided to check it out. That was my first outlet into actual engineering, and it really opened my eyes to what people do on teams and how they work together. Whether you’re working on design or manufacturing, you’re always going to have to communicate what you need to get done to someone. And if you can’t do that, it’s going to take so much longer to complete a task. On the other hand, you also need to have the confidence to ask for help. Even in my own internship, I notice it’s sometimes hard to do that, but at the end of the day, you have to realize no one knows everything and learning is a big part of doing good work.”
How my Filipino heritage inspires me to give back. “Here in Michigan, there’s not a huge concentrated population of Filipinos, but I live in a city that’s lucky enough to have a small community center where we can gather. I didn’t realize how much that played a part in my development growing up until I went to college. I met a lot of other Filipino students from other regions through this collegiate organization called the Midwest Association of Filipino Americans, and a lot of them didn’t have similar outlets. Because of that, I wanted to give back to the community, and on the daily, I’m working with several national organizations. Right now, I’m the youth ambassador for the National Federation of Filipino Americans for the whole Great Lakes region, and at the moment, we’re focusing a lot on civic engagement. We’re stressing the importance of filling out the census, and voter registration, and getting people to use their voices. Doing that work, I’ve learned so much about issues impacting Filipino Americans. People don’t realize just how much the legacy of colonization has impacted our community. Like, people joke about how the Philippines was conquered by the Spanish and the Japanese and the Americans. And I’m like, ‘Yeah, and we didn’t ask for any of that.’ And that’s why we come here, and why many people take the risks of being undocumented in America, because they have to take those risks in order to build a life for themselves.”
On supporting Asian Americans in the workplace. “When I interviewed for the internship I have this summer, the guy interviewing me was Asian American, and it made me realize I’ve never had an Asian American boss. Talking with him, he was genuinely so interested in the work I do with Filipino organizations across the nation. It was so validating for me that he understood that my culture and my heritage is super important to me. So starting up resource groups in workplaces for Asian Americans is definitely something I want to be a part of when I start my career. Hopefully, in 20 years, I’ll be someone who can share stories about how I got to where I am with other Asian Americans — or women, or women of color — so they feel supported in their own careers and dreams.”