Jalyn Shontee on embracing new challenges

2017 Commencement Speaker: Jalyn Shontee

May 3, 2017

During her tenure in the Speed School, Jalyn Shontee balanced her time as a student as a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a Brown Fellow, Library Student Advisory Board, and Engineering Fundamentals teaching assistant, and her regular co-op rotations, which has fortunately yielded a position at Gulfstream Aerospace as a Service Engineer.

A recipient of the Woodford R. Porter and Brown Fellows scholarships, Shontee graduated last year from UofL in the top 1 percent of her class with a bachelor of mechanical engineering degree. This year, she will receive her master's degree. The 2012 duPont Manual grad has served on numerous student organizations, including the UofL chapter of NSBE, Speed School's Women in Engineering Leadership Conference and the Miss Black UofL Scholarship Pageant. As a Brown Fellows scholar, she created a summer camp for minority girls to help get them involved in STEM fields.

'My education and academics in general are very important to me, and that's one thing I've always been very driven about. As far as activities and organizations I'm involved with, academics is important there too because I like to see other people succeed academically. So I try to tailor my extra-curriculars and things I'm involved with to helping other people succeed.'

During the Speed School Honors & Awards program held in April, Jalyn Shontee received the Bennett M. Brigman, an award which recognizes the Speed School student who most nearly attains the objectives of the school. Because of her high achievement while at UofL, Shontee was asked to speak at commencement this year, a task that she did not anticipate.

“I think Speed School and the University as a whole has done a good job in preparing me for the next step in my life. It’s kind of pushed and stretched me a lot. For example, the whole commencement speech, I would’ve never thought that I would’ve done that. It’s a good opportunity to challenge yourself and push yourself. Ultimately, it will make the next part of my life better.”

Raised in Louisville, Shontee gravitated towards math and science at a young age. Initially, she thought to pursue a career in medicine, before finding inspiration to go into engineering.

“My strong suit is analysis. Calculus was one of my favorite classes. I like to pick out numerical patterns and things like that. In high school, I had a friend with a private pilot’s license, and I was interested in that.”

Shontee has a positive perspective on her time at UofL, viewing her obstacles as an opportunity for growth.

“One of the faculty members involved with the Brown Fellow called me and asked me if I would give the address. He asked if it would make me nervous. I said yes,” says Shontee adding, “I was trying to think about topics, but everything that came to mind seemed cliché for college. I kind of want to talk about how the things you learn in college you can take away into your life.”

In her free time, Shontee volunteers at the West End School as a tutor and mentor and grades calculus homework for professors in the Engineering Fundamentals department. She has received numerous recognitions for her outstanding work, including the ASME Pi Tau Sigma Award, the NSBE Louisville Chapter Award, the KSPE Service Award and Speed School's Alfred T. Chen Award.