When Claudia Sachtleben Winter recently earned her Bachelor’s degree in Construction Engineering Management and Technology she culminated a journey was many years in the making.
Winter’s academic career had a few interruptions for marriage and children, but when she returned to Purdue University North Central to study for her degree, she discovered that things fell into place for her academically.
“I had no idea what a girl like me was doing in the construction business,” she admitted when she reflected on her academic career. “When I returned to school after a six-year break, I was considering a major other than construction. When I met with Martha Garcia-Saenz, associate professor of Building Construction Management Technology and CEMT Program coordinator, she told me there was a place for me in construction and to be successful in my college career I needed to balance family, faith and school.”
Garcia-Saenz assured her that assistance would be available for her at PNC, should she need it.
After that, things started to click for Winter who likened herself to a sponge absorbing information. “I found that my professors were experts in their field, with few exceptions. They coached and directed me; they offered advice. They were fabulous.”
As a returning student she “had to learn how to study all over again” but she found that her professors were accessible when she needed help and campus resources were available for services from tutoring to resume preparation.
“I love that the professors express concern with student performance” said Winter.”
That faculty involvement helped Winter succeed with a challenging senior project. When the Independent Cat Society (ICS) in Westville approached Dr. Thomas Brady, professor of Industrial Engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering and technology, with a request for help with a major project, Winter expressed interest.
An admitted cat lover, Winter met with some board members and soon discovered the original project was too much to tackle at the time. A new project quickly evolved that had the potential to aid the ICS in raising the money need to finance its building project.
Winter wasted no time in diving into her project to design, assist with funding, cultivate and organize volunteers and ultimately construct a “Rainbow Bridge Memorial Garden.”
She found that as she worked on the project, visitors who stopped by to the check the project’s progress would tour the facilities and end up adopting a cat. ICS established new relationships with the community and strengthened existing ones.
The Rainbow Bridge Memorial Garden officially opened in June.
Winter, a parishioner at Liberty Bible Church, was asked to organize the remodeling of its nursery.
Clearly, Winter faced countless demands for her time and energy.
“I had to prioritize. Children first. Then fit in the rest. My children, Elyse and Elaine saw the importance of what I was accomplishing. My husband supported what I was doing and my parents, Fred and Pat Sachtleben, are simply, the most. It’s important to maintain communication with your family – at home is where you need to find your support.”
Winter was thrilled when daughter Elyse became a PNC student. She and Elyse both earned degrees in May.
Winter earned the 2011 Women in Engineering student scholarship and was a member of the Construction Club team that earned second place in the National Association of Home Builders competition open to teams of university students from schools from throughout the nation.
A few days before graduation, Winter took on the role of mentor as she spoke to members of the PNC Women in Engineering organization, sharing her insights and advice.
“Look at your lifetime goals,” she advised. “Don’t be discouraged if you have to change your plans. If it takes you 28 years, with patience and perseverance, you can reach your goals.”
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