News & Insights

College Women in STEM Envision Professional Futures at University of Central Florida’s SWE Gala

Kimley-Horn Panelist Shares Her Path to Success, Inspiring Future Female Leaders

Kiana Nieves

Kiana Nieves

Civil Analyst

Supporting College Women in STEM

Dedicated to advocating for equality and change for women in engineering and technology, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has provided a voice for women globally for more than 60 years. SWE chapters have formed at colleges across the nation to support the next generation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). SWE at the University of Central Florida (UCF) hosts an annual gala for women enrolled in STEM coursework to learn, network, and support each other, helping bridge the gap between their college experiences and their futures as professionals in the industry.

Discussing What It Means to Be Resilient

At this year’s gala, SWE at UCF held breakout Q&A sessions with panelists including professionals in different phases of their careers. Panelists shared their thoughts about the gala’s theme of resilience and what it means to be a woman in STEM. Kimley-Horn women were excited to attend to form connections and support the firm’s Kiana Nieves as she spoke on the panel.

Kiana is a first-generation college student who shared how her goal of obtaining a degree drove her to develop a strong work ethic. Some of the takeaways from the SWE panel discussion were:

  • Use the resources that your school or work provide you with to be successful.
  • Take advantage of online tools that have a big impact. You can email a professor or peer to ask for help or connect with another STEM professional to seek out new opportunities.
  • Ask for help and learn from others to promote individual resiliency over time.
  • Attain individual resiliency by believing in yourself and your abilities.

“We’re quick to judge ourselves, but don’t forget that with failure comes a lesson that makes you a better student, a better professional, and a better person.”

Overcoming Obstacles as Women in STEM

During the panel, Kiana also shared about the obstacles she overcame throughout her journey towards becoming a professional engineer. Reflecting on her experience at the SWE Gala event, Kiana said, “It’s hard being in STEM as a woman, particularly as a Latina, when the odds sometimes feel stacked against you. It was encouraging to connect with these women and say, ‘I was in your shoes once and I achieved my post-graduation goals.’ The sleepless nights are worth it!”

Kimley-Horn employees are involved in several university and local SWE chapters and other industry organizations that support women in STEM. Learn more about Women at Kimley-Horn.

About the Panelist

Kiana Nieves

Kiana Nieves

Kiana is a civil analyst with land development and site civil knowledge in utility and drainage design, roadway and site improvements, ADA compliance, construction phase services, and permitting through various water management districts and municipal agencies. She has contributed to numerous commercial, residential, and high-end mixed-use developments in Central Florida and throughout the state.


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