Aaron Stafford and Camila Daffre

Navigating a male-dominated space

In honor of Women’s History Month, the UGA Mentor Program is saluting women making strides in traditionally male-dominated fields and the men serving as allies for them. Meet UGA mechanical engineering student Camila Daffre, Class of 2024, and her mentor Aaron Stafford (BSME ’19).

The fact that Aaron was once the lone male on an otherwise all-female team helped him develop empathy for the challenges women face in the male-dominated world of mechanical engineering.

Camila is grateful for the additional people she’s met through Aaron’s introductions. “He has placed me in contact with a diverse group–not just ethnically diverse, but also people at different points in their careers–engineers just starting families and working moms who have risen in the profession. Their insight has been valuable in helping me plan for my future,” Camila said.

Introducing Camila to others in his workplace has benefited Aaron as well. “Connecting Camila with colleagues has raised my profile and strengthened relationships within my company,” Aaron said. “It helps that Camila is always prepared for these chats and asks such amazing questions. I hear good things back from my co-workers after a discussion with Camila.”

When Camila and Aaron met, their connection was instant. It has proven to be lasting, too, extending far beyond a standard 16-week mentorship and spanning a multitude of topics besides her chosen career path. Camilla now characterizes Aaron as “my life mentor.” They have been meeting up virtually every other week for two years now.

The format they’ve established for their meetings is based on the question, “What’s a challenge you’ve faced this week?” And the feedback/problem-solving flows both ways between the two of them. “I appreciate Camila’s perspective,” said Aaron. “Our relationship helps me prepare to be a manager down the line.”

Your experience could mean so much to a student following in your footsteps. Discover the joy of serving as a mentor. It may amaze you how much you get out of giving back in this way.

Wait, there’s more!

Camila first sought to connect with Aaron because she found herself torn between the choice to pursue a manufacturing or a corporate path in mechanical engineering. Aaron has experience in both. To find out which path Camila chose and hear more from this duo about their dynamic mentorship connection, check out this episode of RealTalk, the UGA Mentor Program’s podcast.

And even more!

Join Women of UGA for the first Mentorship Monday of 2022, a virtual panel discussion with women in traditionally male-dominated spaces on Monday, March 21 at noon.