Dual Dose of Ambition - Jenny Hellyer '10

Dual Dose of Ambition

Jenny Hellyer '10 at the Twyckenham Bridge in South Bend. She is helping on the bridge rehabilitation project as part of a summer internship.
Jenny Hellyer '10 poses at the foot
of the Twyckenham Bridge in South
Bend. She is helping on the bridge
rehabilitation project as part of a
summer internship.

Like many young girls, Jenny Hellyer ‘10 and her little sister played Barbies. But Jenny didn’t fret over what Barbie would wear to Ken’s pool party. While her sister dreamed about the doll’s next adventure, Jenny was building Barbie a place to live.

“I actually built us a Barbie Dream House with a (working) elevator I made out of old shelves,” Jenny recalls. “I had more fun building us things to play with than actually playing. My sister thought it was cool because then she could play with it.”

This is apparently what a budding engineer looks like.

Fast-forward 12 years: Jenny is a year and one degree away from completing the Saint Mary's College-University of Notre Dame Engineering Dual Degree Program. In May, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Saint Mary's, and next spring she’ll receive her bachelor’s in civil engineering from Notre Dame. Jenny is poised to enter a male-dominated field that is eager to hire women. Two degrees gives this strong student another advantage.

“Having an advanced math degree allows Jenny to have a richer understanding of design concepts, theories and structural design,” notes Susan Al Abbas, an engineer who is supervising Jenny on her summer internship with the company R.W. Armstrong. Instead of a “dream house,” Jenny is helping out on a bridge rehabilitation project. The company has asked her to stay on this fall as a part-time employee.

“With Jenny’s strong leadership skills, she could end up being a program manager at some point in her life.  Successful program managers have a strong sense of business acumen—they have the ability to understand and manipulate complicated budgets, schedules and financial theories. I think her math degree will help her be a better manager,” says Al Abbas, office manager/project manager with the company’s South Bend office.  

In August, Jenny will begin her last year of college, this time exclusively at Notre Dame. But she says her Saint Mary's background will stay with her wherever she goes.

“Saint Mary’s pulls you out of your shell. I was a really shy kid in high school. I probably never would have done this, if it weren’t for coming here. Now I’m much more outgoing, much more confident in myself. My parents and I believe that came from Saint Mary's.”