Black History Month: Dr. Juanita Christensen
This black history month -- waay 31 is honoring some of the black pioneers that have helped shape north alabama, the state and the country.
Tonight -- we're learning more about - dr. juanita christensen.
Waay31's megan reyna explains how her success is far more than the title she holds.
Christensen says: "if you look at me and all you see if that i'm black and i'm a female, then you don't really know who i am."
But dr. juanita christensen does know who she is.
And its what's made her successful as a leader... mother..
But it took a lot of hard work and evolving.
Growing up in east st.
Louis illiniois -- she figured she'd follow the traditonal path for a women.
Christensen says:"you could be a teacher, you could be a nurse, you could be a secretary, or you could be a stay at home mom."
Except a high school counselor knew christensen was destined to break the mold.
She suggested she study engineering.
Chirstensen says:"my first response was, i don't want to drive a train because that's all i knew."
But quickly -- she realized the world of engineering was far more than just trains.
Christensen was intrigued.
She would go on to study at the university of illinois urbana - champaign.
Christensen says:"so i sat in a lot of lecture halls with 300, 400 people."
Christensen says:"in the engineering discipline, there might be 2 to 3 women in that room.
I would usually be the only black."
At times -- it was evident some people didn't think she belonged.
Christensen says:"in one of my engineering classes, i was struggling.
I went to the office hours of the professors and he looked straight into my face and basically said to me, i don't know what you're in my class."
But chirstensen took that moment and used it as motivation.
She graduated in 1985 with a degree in computer engineering.
Christensen was the first of her seven siblings to earn a degree.
And she didn't stop there.
She eventually earned her masters then doctorate -- while juggling three children.
Christensen says:"one of the things my mother always taught me was to not let your environment define who you are, you have to know who you are."
Stand up megan says: "christensen worked for several different industry companies -- eventually relocating her here to huntsville.
But it wouldn't be until 2007 -- she'd start her career with the army."
Christensen says: "to be their bottom line was the dollar, but to me, as an army civilian, the bottom line is the solder in the field."
Aside from holding several different roles -- climbing up the latter -- christensen always made it a priority to mentor others.
Whether its professionals in the industry or high school students interested in stem.
Christensen says: "my measure of success is not how far i achieve, but how much i can influence and allow someone else to achieve even beyond what i achieve."
Christensen says: "i want to see more people that look like me on the board, not just look like me, but i want to see more diversity on the board."
Christensen said she plans to work another five to six years as she believes there's still a lot she has to offer.
Mr waay 31 news.
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One-hour with jimmy kimmel is next... then the news is