By Catherine Shen
The inspiration of strong female leadership and role models has been invaluable for Shakira Ramos Crespo ’02.
“I’m in a field where women aren’t a majority, so to see female leadership is so important to me,” says Ramos Crespo, an engineer with Pratt & Whitney. She also comes from a family of educators; her mother and grandparents were teachers, which spurred her on to help motivate girls to become interested in various STEM and leadership opportunities.
Ramos Crespo, a Hartford native, was introduced to Trinity through a high school pre-engineering program at the college. She says the program was an eye-opening experience not only because it was open to women and students of color but also because it gave her a future she never thought of considering.
“I had no idea what engineering was as a junior in high school. If it wasn’t for my teacher who said I should try it because I was good at math and science, I don’t think I would’ve become an engineer,” says Ramos Crespo. “A combination of that teacher and Trinity showed me a brand-new opportunity.”
Ramos Crespo wanted to study both engineering and Latin American studies. She eventually decided to focus on mechanical engineering, but having the flexibility of getting her B.S. in engineering while being able to take Latin American studies classes was a huge plus for her. “I got the best of both worlds,” says Ramos Crespo, who went on to earn an M.B.A. from the University of Hartford.
Ramos Crespo has worked at Pratt & Whitney for the last 17 years in a variety of roles, including engineering, business management, and customer service. Gaining vast experience working in different departments is a philosophy in which Ramos Crespo firmly believes; she encourages Trinity students to do the same, especially those pursuing a STEM major.
Having a liberal arts degree is more advantageous in her field, she says. “It gives you a diverse experience. You don’t just study the science, you also learn how to socialize and communicate beyond the engineering field. Trinity pushed us to be exposed to different disciplines. That vast experience makes a huge difference once you get into the work force, where not everyone may be in the same field as you.”
Ramos Crespo says that being involved with several organizations as an undergraduate and in her postgraduate life helped her adapt to various environments. She served as president of Trinity’s Latinx student organization, La Voz Latina, from 2001 to 2002 and as a P.R.I.D.E. leader from 1999 to 2002. She also was a part of the Multicultural Affairs Council and Trinity’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. From 2007 to 2010, Ramos Crespo served on the college’s Board of Trustees as the Funston Trustee.
Now she’s a member of the Women’s Leadership Council and a mentor to the college’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. Ramos Crespo, who also served as a member of the Women at the Summit Steering Committee, has taken part in many career-related panels and networking events throughout the years since her graduation, including ongoing collaborations with Trinity’s Center for Student Success and Career Development.
Ramos Crespo also is active in the community, bringing inspiration to Hartford-area youth. She served as director of the 2019 Tech Savvy Conference, open to sixth- through ninth-grade girls who want to learn about careers in STEM and to parents and educators who want to encourage girls to realize their potential in these fields. The annual event, hosted by the Connecticut chapter of the American Association of University Women, has been held at Trinity for the past five years.
Carol Correa de Best, director of Trinity’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, has worked closely with Ramos Crespo and says she is a leader who inspires others to follow their dreams and to be the best version of themselves. “She’s always willing to make the time to aid wherever she can,” says de Best. “She’s an avid advocate for those from underrepresented backgrounds. Her mere presence inspires.”