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ISE student Kelli Ross dual winner as ‘Star’ of SWE

Young woman holding an award
ISE student Kelli Ross received a Guiding Star award at the March 2023 Society of Women Engineers WE Local conference in Hartford, Conn. 

The Society of Women Engineers recognized the potential of Kelli Ross (ISE ’24) two years ago when they presented her with the Rising Star award. She lived up to the billing and was once again honored by the organization with the Guiding Star award at the March 2023 WE Local conference in Hartford, Conn. 

“It was definitely a full circle moment for me,” Ross says. “It validates my love of the organization and encourages me to continue to give back.” 

The Guiding Star award is given to exceptional collegiate leaders with at least two years of SWE involvement who have made outstanding contributions to the organization, the engineering community and their campus. A maximum of 15 awards are presented annually with selection criteria based on academic and technical achievements; SWE service and leadership; engineering societies; and community and campus involvement. 

In her personal statement submitted with her nomination, Ross wrote, “As someone who did not grow up with STEM outreach or role models before college, joining Society of Women Engineers at Ohio State was the driver that pushed forward my passion for engineering. As I struggled with imposter syndrome in my courses and projects, SWE provided me with a community of like-minded women and unmatched resources that made engineering seem like something I could accomplish. Because of this, I actively strive to advocate for those around me and to help them develop professionally, personally and in leadership.” 

She has belonged to the organization since arriving on campus four years ago. “It’s definitely something that’s meant a lot to me,” she says. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of love for me. I don’t think I would be where I am in college without this organization.” 

Ross currently serves as the Ohio State SWE vice president and leads its Leadership Development Program Beginner Track as coordinator-elect. She also has served as a “big” in SWE’s Big-Little program and mentored seven students. She credits her own “big,” Dana Gill (ISE ’20), with helping her to step out of her comfort zone. “She was a wonderful role model,” Ross says of Gill, adding that the Big-Little program has expanded over the years and now includes 150 mentor-mentee relationships. 

In addition to her roles in SWE, Ross is an undergraduate teaching assistant for Engineering Economics, a member of Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers and treasurer for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (oSTEM) at Ohio State. 

She has completed internships and co-ops with Walt Disney World and Johnson & Johnson, and says she plans to continue her involvement with SWE in her professional career and advocate for all STEM fields. 

A group of women posing
Thirty-four members of the Ohio State Chapter of Society of Women Engineers and Advisor and Associate Professor Kristina Kennedy traveled to Hartford, Conn. For the March 2023 conference where three Ohio State members received Guiding Star awards, including ISE student Kelli Ross. Joining the students in forming O-H-I-O is SWE President Dayna Johnson. 

At the conference, Ross presented “Making a Seat at the Table: Prioritizing DEI & B in Industry,” with Ohio State student Logan Nethers (FABE). Ross says the session discussed “aligning personal priorities with a prospective employer’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives.” 

“We’ve been working on this content for over a year now and it was privilege to get to share it with a broad audience,” Ross says. 

More than 800 members attended the Hartford conference, including 34 members from Ohio State’s chapter. 


Story by Nancy Richison

Category: Student