Ra'Van Williams

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

Heinz Programming Area:
Study Abroad Country: Cohort Year:  Home Institution:  Programming Area: 
International Experience Summary:

As a Vira Heinz Scholarship recipient, Ra’Van studied abroad in Munich, Germany for four and a half weeks. While in Germany, Ra’Van took courses in Engineering Law, Global German Production Footprint, R&D Management, and Service Engineering, just to name a few. These courses served to not only strengthen and broaden her practical knowledge of engineering but also served as an introduction to many of the business concepts such as ergonomics, and global standards that will undoubtedly be a part of her work as an engineer in the future. During her time in Germany, she also found the educational environment  was much more hands on, many of her courses containing some sort of project, in lab simulation, or challenge, making it easier to grasp the concepts. Her in class learnings were complemented by weekly visits to local manufacturers, where she was able to view firsthand how many German companies including BMW and Audi, operate and engineer their products. This experience has inspired her to look further into careers in the automotive industry as well as returning to Europe for work in the future. Additionally, through her courses Ra’Van was able to learn over one hundred words and phrases in German, which helped her to better communicate and navigate in the city. When not in the classroom, Ra’Van had the opportunity to experience the rich history of Bavaria through weekly excursions to many popular sites in Munich, including both historical and tourist attractions. Most notable of her excursions was her jaunt to the Alps where she was able to conquer her dual fears of heights and roller coasters on the alpine coaster. In her free time, Ra’Van formed friendships with several of the German students at the University who helped her to explore the city and gain a better understanding of the customs.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Breaking Invisible Barriers

Breaking Invisible Barriers was an hour and a half presentation dedicated to uncovering some of the common barriers in society that prevent marginalized groups from advancing. Such barriers include, lack of accessibility, cultural gender roles, beauty standards, and even lack of integration of immigrants/refugees/international students. In the opening of our program, we introduced these concepts to our audience while also helping them to understand why such barriers are often overlooked. Unfortunately, society considers many invisible barriers to be norms and traditions. To many these barriers seem like small day to day struggles or a small segment of a large problem but there is nothing in need of fixing. After a brief introduction we transitioned into pizza for the audience. This allowed us to mingle with the different attendees and learn a little bit more about them and their interest in the presentation. We then launched it to the focal point of our program, barrier-specific stations. These stations allowed us to provide more in depth information concerning each of the four barriers as well as resources to get involved in breaking them. Station one was focused on beauty standards and involved information from Courtney's experience in South Korea as it related to some of the similar behaviors here in the U.S. . This session was concluded with a demonstration of a beauty enhancer app often used in South Korea. Our next station focused on cultural gender roles in the context of both Tanzanian and the U.S. . This session was wrapped up with a game of jeopardy which allowed the audience to have a little fun while showcasing what they had learned from the presentation. The final two booths were focused on lack of accessibility and Lack of integration of immigrants. Each was fitted with a short activity to engage the audience. The presentation was concluded with a recap of all of the information that had been presented and questions and comments from the audience.