Do you believe that our lives are all intertwined by a thin thread? That at the right place and the right time, our lives can cross with someone else’s and impactful connections can form?
Meet Lamonda Pete (aka @livinglamondaloca). She is a 27-year-old fashion and wellness blogger from Atlanta, GA. By day, she is project manager/supply chain engineer for an international energy management company.
I met Lamonda just 3 weeks ago when she stumbled upon my feature post of Alley, and we immediately connected over the fact that she is ALSO an engineer like me! After knowing more about her in the DMs, I immediately jumped at the chance to interview her to talk more about her experience not just in the influencer industry, but also in the engineering world. As much as I can talk nonstop about my grievances working in a white-male dominated industry, Lamonda’s story pretty much validates (if not, amplifies) some of my experiences as a woman of color in STEM. Hope you enjoy!
I officially launched my blog on March 28, 2020. My social media and blog are for women to find their love for fashion through their own sense of style. I’ve just began deep diving into heavy topics that 20-somethings or even 30-somethings usually struggle with secretly. There are times I’ve went on Google to try to relate to some bloggers, but I could never find anything that covered a plus-sized African American female career-woman trying to navigate through new experiences in life. I try to post what inspires those to love yourself wholeheartedly and care for yourself in all aspects; rather it just be a brand new outfit, working out, cooking, or being brave enough to start working with a therapist.
Coming from a small town, you only ever heard of a select few people “making it out” and becoming “successful”. I’ve always been the nerd that actually enjoyed math and over analyzing any scenario placed in front of me. It was between me becoming a pediatrician and engineer. It wasn’t until I toured Georgia Tech that I officially fell in love with becoming an engineer.
We were given statistics of how many females, let alone African American engineers, there were and I immediately wanted to add to that number. I found a profession that would allow me to forge my own path and inspire others to never shy away from a challenge. As an engineer, I come across challenges every single day and this only increases my love of being an engineer. The lack of representation of women and minorities in STEM is still evidently clear. Some are not exposed or encouraged to pursue a STEM related career, which is why I pursued this career even harder. We have to start a change somewhere and any creative way we can think of.
Even in college, I saw the reality that a woman of color was like a “speck of pepper in a bowl of milk” in engineering. I’ve just always held on to the fact that I would never give up and I’d continue to push the status quo. I’ve been one of the first female supervisors in a role only men took at one point and I’ve worked in the office. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a career that has exposed me to multiple work environments and each environment has come with it’s on challenges. There have been both positive and challenging aspects in my career.
Being that I’m a double minority in a male-dominated field, I haven’t always had the most positive experiences. However, it has given me the talent to conduct myself in a professional manner when faced with difficult obstacles. I’ve had men deliberately talk over me because they weren’t interested in what I had to say. The day I learned how to make my presence known was the day I promised I would never allow anyone to dim me as an engineer. As a woman of color, I’ve had to swallow tough pills that I never thought I would have to deal with in the work place. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being called the “n-word’, both in my career and while in college. As all three, I’ve had to remind myself that no matter how upset I was, I had to stay in a professional state of mind at all times.
Being able to inspire young women’s interest in STEM encourages me to push forward and continue to knock down barriers. I want young women, especially minorities, to remember that there isn’t a mountain on this planet they couldn’t move if they choose to.
To me, being a Black woman is a true measurement of undeniable strength. Being bold and unapologetic in who we are. From our hairstyles to our wardrobe, we are literally walking pieces of art. Yet, this comes with the responsibility to negate every misguided stereotype that society has of a person of color. As a Black woman, I defy all odds against me daily. When I achieve something, it’s not just my achievement, but a giant leap/achievement for all Black women. Being a Black woman means there is someone out there that has the experiences that I’ve had and that very same magic our ancestors have given us. What exactly does being a Black woman mean to me? It means EVERYTHING!
“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? ” -Zora Neale Hurston
That statement alone proves how much she has inspired me. She was bold, unapologetic and helped teach me my first lesson in fighting against discrimination. I’ve stood on the corner street of my own university, been called the n-word and couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve been in the middle of my job, called the n-word and feel that ball of anxiety because I wasn’t in control. All of that anger has once boiled inside of me, but my girl Zora reminded me to ALWAYS be who I am. Black, beautiful, bold, and unapologetic in who I am.
I’m working to change the lack of Black female engineering mentors in companies. Some people of color aren’t going into the engineering industry because of lack exposure and no encouragement to go after a challenge. I had to literally go out into the world to find out more about engineering or STEM in general. There should be more programs that reach out to POC pertaining to a STEM career. This, in turn, could at least increase diversity, instead of just meeting the company’s diversity quota.
I want more of the influencers in this industry who are not people of color to use their platform to spread information and knowledge that’s needed. Don’t be afraid to use your platform to give others a voice. Even if you’re an influencer and you lack the knowledge, don’t be afraid to just simply ask. How can you learn if you never even ask?
Stop asking why we’re protesting and gaslighting how we should feel about every single injustice. Stop trying to convince me that Colin Kaepernick was being disrespectful to the American flag. For a change, I just wish some non-Black people would choose to truly see the reality of our world. We’re not just angry, we’re hurt, we’re grieving, we’re just plain exhausted of seeing the same thing happen over and over again with no change. If you don’t know how to understand, I would rather you acknowledge the injustice and ask to be taught more than what you see on the outside. Do not make a fully disrespectful/racist post on social media, and proceed to apologize stating “that was out of my character” only after disciplinary actions were taken. Be the positive voice that takes time to understand the purpose behind Black Lives Matter.
For a list of ways to support #BlackLivesMatter, check out this page.
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