All the fixings

A passion for tinkering and fixing things led Bernadette West to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Wright State.

By Micah Karr ’19

Growing up in Germantown, Bernadette West loved to watch and help her dad fix cars. That very passion for tinkering and fixing things eventually led to her desire to think beyond the garage.

After struggling to decide what she wanted to study, West landed on mechanical engineering. She said the program helped her see how many areas her expertise could be used in.

“[These are] real-life scenarios—automotive, manufacturing, construction, health fields, and many more,” said West. “Mechanical engineering felt like it had a little bit of experience in each area and if I really liked a certain area, I could go back and learn more.”

On her first visit to Wright State, she fell in love with the atmosphere and appreciated that it was located close to home, yet far enough away that she was able to experience the independence she sought.

“I felt free from my hometown, but not too far away that I couldn’t commute,” she said. “I didn’t feel suffocated. It gave me the independence I wanted, especially as a freshman.”

At the beginning of her fourth year, West was awarded the Emerson Scholarship, a corporate scholarship established at Wright State by Emerson Climate Technologies to support the development of a strong, diverse engineering workforce for the greater Dayton region. The scholarship supports engineering students at both the Dayton and Lake campuses.

The scholarship, said West, helped her find the motivation to finish her degree while working full-time.

“I knew getting my degree would take longer than four years and I was in a phase of my life where I didn’t know if it was worth it to keep going,” she said. “In this time of doubt, Emerson decided that I was worth it. That meant the world to me.”

In addition to her studies, West finds meaning in the programming provided by the university’s culture and identity centers. Previous newsletters and events included recipes and engaging information about the inclusive community and cultures on and around campus. She said the recipes remind her of her mother’s East Asian and Filipino culture.

“Seeing the effort that is being made to educate people about Asian cultures makes me happy, especially since there has been a lot of hate towards the Asian community,” she said.

As the Fall Semester begins, West is keeping her eye on spring 2022, when she will hopefully graduate.

“I have faith in myself again and know that all this work I’ve done is worth it,” she said.

This article was originally published in the fall 2021 issue of the Wright State Magazine. Find more stories at

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