Resilience Resume – Dr. Andrea Welker

Andrea L. Welker, PhD | Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Engineering | Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

“One day towards the end of September 1995, I walked into one of the many nondescript classrooms in Ernest Cockrell, Jr Hall at The University of Texas of Austin. I was there because I had decided that I wanted to pursue my PhD after working in consulting for two years. I quit my job and my husband and I packed up our belongings and drove them from Pittsburgh to Austin. My husband was working as a management consultant and had found a wonderful job… based out of Philadelphia. He flew out of Austin’s airport every Monday and returned on Friday nights and I would meet him in Philadelphia about once a month. I was taking three graduate classes that met right in a row: Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 8:30 (Consolidation and Settlement), 9:30 (Shear Strength), and 10:30 (Slope Stability). I was taking classes from world-renowned professors. It was exciting, but I felt like I was in over my head. My 9:30 class was with my advisor, Dr. David Daniel. He was a masterful teacher that could make very complex topics understandable. Well, to everyone but me, apparently. On that fateful day I took my seat in the middle of the classroom and he handed back our first exam. A 42. Out of a 100. I was devastated. Suddenly, my mind was racing… “What I am doing here? Do I even belong here? How in the world did I ever think this crazy living arrangement was ever going to work with my husband? I’m making a mess of our life and now I’m failing? Will Dr. Daniel kick me off his research team because I’m so awful? Will my classmates judge me because now I’m a crying girl?” As these thoughts raced through my mind, the tears poured down my face. So now, not only was I failure, I was a crying failure! A crying failure in the middle of the classroom. After class, Dr. Daniel very gently asked me to stop by his office after my next class. I managed to pull myself together and get through my next class. I then popped my head in his office, “Dr. Daniel, you wanted to see me?” I sheepishly asked. He asked me to come in. He was compassionate and kind, so compassionate actually, that I burst into tears, again! After managing to stop the flow of salty water once again down my now blotchy face, we set about making a plan to get me back on track. I can’t say I turned into a Shear Strength expert, but I did manage to earn a B in that class and my PhD three years later.”

Dr. Welker’s Resilience Resume Social Media Post

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