Ever wanted to dance and build complicated programs and teach grade-school kids algebra all at once? Well, if you take that one step at a time, you’re following the Janelle Toussaint method.
A senior mechanical engineering major and computer programming minor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Toussaint has been multi-hyphenating her college experience from day one. By the end of her four years as an undergraduate, she will have joined the on-campus club Dance Off, Black Student Assembly (BSA), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Delta Sigma Theta, and volunteered regularly at local K-12 schools.
What’ s Toussaint’s secret? For starters, she is a compulsive organizer. From keeping track of homework on sticky notes to color coding her calendars, she checks and rechecks her heavy agenda to keep herself on top of what she wants to do and more.
“I want to be more well-rounded,” she said. “Being in school, you kind of become one-sided in whatever area you’re studying, but being aware of what is around you in school or in the world really helps. And you can never not know enough.”
A change-maker in the world of finance
That’s how Toussaint rolls, with an unsatiated thirst for interdisciplinary knowledge. This eventually led her to intern for both Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs. She didn’t exactly try practicing a completely different profession at each company. Rather, she applied what she knew about computer science into the field of banking and financing.
“Why apply for a bank? Well, everyone uses computers,” Toussaint said, “but not everyone has a background in technology.”
At Goldman Sachs, she spent an entire summer developing an integrative system that automated workflows and optimized presentation. Basically, she made the bankers’ jobs easier by minimizing many processes into one, enhancing the appearance of their presentations which solidified the company’s brand.
That is the beauty of mechanical engineering and computer programming. They are not just skills necessary in building cards or computers, but in constructing all types of interfaces through which the world functions.
But Toussaint isn’t only known for her talent in the workforce. While developing her own skills at USC, she attempted to help others build their won as well. From facilitating leadership opportunities for her NSBE cabinet to mentoring children at the USC Media Arts & Engineering Magnet (USC MAE) on her own prompting, she loves pulling others up with her.
“I take pride in developing people under me and people around me,” Toussaint said, “and I’m really passionate about empowering those underrepresented in STEM fields.”
And that much is evident in the way the children she tutored react to her teaching. “Students she has worked with say that she is very relatable and has a special ability to break down math problems in a way that they can actually understand them” said Chisato Craig, a college counselor at USC MAE Magnet. “She is kind, caring, compassionate, and is genuinely interested in helping students.”
“I take pride in developing people under me and people around me, and I’m really passionate about empowering those underrepresented in STEM fields.”
That’s what is at the heart of her motivation. It’s all about the collaborative movement and a passion for teaching STEM which she describes as the “development of critical thinking and problem solving skills applicable in so many areas.”
Now, with an arsenal of skill, leadership development, and knowledge, Toussaint is ready to graduate and return to Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst.
But that doesn’t mean she’ll stop her outreach and mentorship activities. Toussaint says,“I intend to get involved with the Salt Lake City Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta as well as the NSBE professional chapter that Goldman Sachs intends to charter.”