When Jodi took her first pivotal career “leap,” she did so boldly. As the first in her family to go to college, she quit her job managing a local Domino’s pizza to pursue an education in engineering. Initially, she had no intention of taking this path. It was actually Jodi’s Dad who originally suggested she explore engineering as a career when she was 17, which she initially brushed off as an “absurd” idea. Sadly, not long after that conversation, Jodi lost her Dad in a motorcycle accident. And, it was this tragedy that would later inspire Jodi to reconsider his suggestion and dive headfirst into her journey as a civil engineer at the University of South Florida.
Throughout her studies, her passions and talents became increasingly clear.
“I became very interested in transportation, mostly because the human aspect made every challenge very different. I also found the amazing ability to focus on transportation safety with my civil engineering degree.”
Jodi later honed her passion for transportation safety and pursued a Master’s Degree in Transportation Engineering at her alma mater, before landing her current role as Senior Research Associate at the Center for Urban Transportation Research. Jodi currently plays a pivotal role in updating and developing various safety policies and standards to make public transit safer and more efficient for Floridians.
Through her studies and career in transportation, a field that’s predominantly male, Jodi developed another human-centric skill.
“I noticed as I continued through my degree in civil engineering, that I, as a female, was a minority. I know that I bring a different perspective to many approaches, adding unique value to my team.”
Determined to make sure that anyone with a unique perspective has a chance to use their voice, Jodi became a passionate advocate for diversity and gender-neutral hiring in the transportation field. She most recently co-authored a study on attracting, promoting and retaining women in the transportation industry, attempting to shed light on why women have a negative perception of working in transportation and how to combat this, through efforts such as mentorship and innovative recruiting.
Not surprisingly, Jodi takes her role as a mentor seriously, remaining active in the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and participating annually in the Great American Teach, encouraging more kids to consider a career in transportation.
“I think that the industry can only benefit from more diversity. So, I want to encourage others, that don’t fit typical ‘molds,’ to learn how to do whatever interests them.”
Jodi encourages others to pay it forward and push themselves beyond what they think they’re capable of for the purpose of expanding their limits. She also emphasizes the importance of knowing when to say no, adding “take time for yourself and for your family, and do not feel bad about time you are not working. “
For anyone considering taking a bold career leap like Jodi, her story will serve as an amazing example of perseverance and her advocacy work will make way for those with a unique perspective to have their rightful place at the table.