Alumni Profile: DaNae’ Winston

Danae Winston standing in front Dell servers

Major/Minor: 2018, B.S. in Electrical Engineering

Post-graduation: Memory Systems Engineer, Dell

Why did you come to Texas State?

One thing that stood out to me the most was how much more diverse the campus was than others I’d visited at the time. I attended a Bobcat Day and that really locked me in. I knew this was where I wanted to come.

What first attracted you to your major?

Reflecting back to high school, I would have to say how out of place I felt. I was always asking questions. If a light went on, I wanted to know how it worked. I just like thinking out of the box. I’m a deep thinker and creative at the same time, and I thought engineering would be the right fit.

Were you involved in any student organizations here?

A lot! Sophomore year I was a SWE member, Society of Women Engineers. Junior year I was treasurer, and then president until graduation. That’s what impacted my career the most, being in SWE. I was also in the National Society of Black Engineers and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. With the LBJ Institute of STEM Education and Research, I was on the advisory board for students.

The way my professors conducted their classes, they prepared me for the work. It was a ready-for-anything situation.

How did your TXST experience prepare you for your career after graduation?

The way my professors conducted their classes, they prepared me for the work. It was a ready-for-anything situation. A big part was Senior Design Day; out of that experience I got business skills, time management skills. I’m kind of doing the same thing now [at work].

Circuits I and II with Dr. Michael Casey was so much fun to me. In our first lab, we made an AM radio on top of a circuit board and they worked — you wouldn’t pass if they didn’t — and that was so much fun to me.

I was terrible at math and science in high school, but just because I was bad then doesn’t mean I couldn’t be a successful engineer. Just because the people don’t look like you or you’ve never had those experiences, that doesn’t stop you.

No one ever made me feel different, “that one African American girl in class.”

Did you have a mentor or other supporter on your path through college to career?

The first internship I got, at Samsung, I got because the president of NSBE [at Texas State] referred me to it. And I’ve now helped five or six students get internships this summer.

During my internship, the HR director of Samsung was my first mentor. I talked to her, she told me, “The way I got to where I am now is by never saying no unless it’s absolutely necessary.” I had a job lined up at Samsung before graduation, but this opportunity at Dell came up, and I thought of her and not saying no and getting out of my comfort zone. Even though I’m at Dell, I still consider her a mentor.

I honestly don’t think I would have finished my degree if I didn’t become a part of SWE. Seeing more females in engineering, seeing I’m not alone. I was too caught up in SWE to think about changing my major! As a junior, I thought, you know what, I want to develop this into something bigger. I felt like I had so much work to do, that I liked doing. I created our first mentoring program, SWE Sisters, like a sorority but not a sorority.

My family. Oh my gosh — they supported me every step of the way, through the good times and the bad. And it kept me going because...there’s all of those statistics saying African Americans aren’t in this field, women aren’t in that field, but my family never let me give up on myself — ever. There were times that I really wanted to quit and just come home but my family never gave up on me and for that I am incredibly blessed and grateful.

What do you like best about your job?

I like that it’s teaching me to be an engineer but also to look at the broader picture. It brings in business and project management. I’m working with multiple teams, in Singapore, Taiwan, Austin, Round Rock. I work with procurement people, computer science people, others. We all have a goal and that’s to get products out at Dell.

What advice would you give an incoming freshman about Texas State?

Start building your résumé early so that you’re not catching up when you’re a junior or senior. There’s a difference between being in an organization and being active in it. Balancing academics and other activities makes you well-rounded. You can have a really high GPA but not be good in teams or working with others, and that’s a red flag.