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Member Profile - Arwa Ghalawan

11/30/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

For Arwa Ghalawan, her first experiences with the STEM field can be traced back to her most formative years, thanks to a little help from her dad and brother.

“My brother and I talk about this a lot, how our dad was the first one in our family to get whatever the new technology product was,” she said. “ For us it was the computer. We were so little when my dad got it, and it was so expensive. But, I remember my brother and I sitting on the computer. First, we were just gazing at it, or at the most we were just looking around to see what was on it. But soon it became about discovering things. It was always the thing that I spent hours on, and from there, I knew I was hooked on STEM.”

Throughout her journey through STEM, Ghalawan has time and time again listened to her instincts, allowing her intellectual curiosity to steer her to fabulous and fascinating opportunities. Hailing from Syria, Ghalawan first came over with family, moving to West Lafayette and then later Fishers. When Ghalawan decided to stay in the area, she says she needed to take some time to decide on what road of study and work to take.

“Initially, I was encouraged to study nursing,” she said. “While I enjoy helping people a lot, I realized I needed to study something that was related to computers. I knew that if I followed that path, I could still help people while staying close to something I was passionate about. It comes from curiosity I think.”

This has been the case whether as a student, a professional, or a volunteer organizer; in fact, Ghalawan first became a part of Women & Hi Tech thanks to her passion for learning as well as socializing. While studying at Ivy Tech for her associate degree in software development, she wondered if she could still be doing more.

“I’m a very social person,” she said. “I asked my program chair, ‘How can I get connected more? Is there a women’s organization that could plug me into a larger community of folks?’ I wanted to help more people around me and to give back to the community. Eventually I wound up attending several workshops and presentations from Women & Hi Tech and I just fell in love immediately.”

Ghalawan made sure to add, “Their mission for women and supporting women, has always been a passion of mine.”

After finishing her degree at Ivy Tech in Lafayette, Ghalawan eventually transitioned into her role with Infoysys, where she serves as a diversity and inclusion executive. While she was still thinking of where her career could take her and how she could continue to volunteer for Women & Hi Tech, she said she received some divine intervention.

“It’s funny,” she said. “We as people try to plan everything, and to set our lives on the track we assume is there. However, suddenly God walks you to a different spot, which you never imagined. I was finishing up my training at Infosys. At that time, I would finish work, and then go straight to events, and organizing activities. This practice has always stuck with me, the love of meeting new people and sharing new ideas.

“Anyway, I was waiting for a project when our Vice President approached me about the activity on my LinkedIn page. He saw that I was constantly attending seminars, meetings, callouts, you name it. He said, ‘I know how social you are, how can we get that side of you involved here?’ That’s when he asked if I would like to be a diversity and inclusion representative.”

For nearly two years now, Ghalawan has continued to serve this role, all while studying informatics at IUPUI. Still, she hasn’t missed an opportunity to encourage her team to work with Women & Hi Tech. When asked why, Ghalawan said she wants to participate in the groundswell tradition that organizations like these provide.

For some women, they have trouble with confidence, so they may not ask about the different fields in tech. It’s really fantastic to be able to tell them, ‘Wait! There is an organization who can help you, who can support you, and who can inspire you.’ It’s really person-to-person and this is the kind of cause I really enjoy contributing to.”

When asked what she’d like to see out of the next 20 years of Women & Hi Tech, Ghalawan said, “I’d like to see more women in the STEM fields, but even beyond that, I’d like to provide guidance for younger women just starting out. Too often we see young women get involved in STEM in college, only to change majors because they don’t have that support system. I hope I can provide that to them in the years to come.”

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