High School Women Honored
at Victorian Tea Party

High school women with a potential interest in an engineering-related career were honored at a tea hosted by Illinois Valley Community College and held at the Hegeler-Carus Mansion in LaSalle, IL.

The highlight of the tea was a presentation by Kate B. Carus about her great-grandmother, Mary Hegeler Carus, the first woman to receive an engineering degree from the University of Michigan. Before her death in 1936, Mary Hegeler Carus served as President of Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company and as vice president of Carus Chemical Company. Kate Carus, herself a licensed professional engineer, is the Technical Services Manager for Architectural and Engineering Services for the North Central Region with Camp Dresser McKee, Inc.

The young women, who attended the tea by invitation, were: Angela Ramey and Gabrielle Widdewski from LaSalle-Peru High School; Haley Adams from Princeton High School; Jessica Leimbach from Putnam County High School; Madeline Piller and Kirsten Swed from Mendota High School; Kelsey Neidetcher from LaMoille High School; Lisa Boaz, Abby Dewalt, Samantha Gallo, Maryann Ghafoor, Kasey Nelson, and Anna O’Dell, all from Ottawa High School.

They were welcomed by Inga Carus, the President and CEO of Carus Corporation, a LaSalle-Peru company that employs more than 15 women in technical careers, some of whom were also at the tea to provide the young women with their advice and life experiences.

"There are many different, exciting positions that Carus’ technical women hold, from Lab Chemists and Technicians, to Vice President of Sales and Marketing, to Corporate Communications Manager – there’s no end to the opportunities that are open to women with technical backgrounds," Inga Carus said.

The tea was supported by a National Science Foundation grant which was awarded to IVCC for the purpose of recruiting more people to prepare for engineering careers. The NSF grant team at IVCC is collaborating with the Hegeler-Carus Foundation on those efforts.

"We’re facing a tremendous shortage in engineering," said Dorene Perez, IVCC’s program coordinator of Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Engineering and director of the NSF grant. "We want young women to see that engineering and engineering technology are exciting and excellent careers for them."

Perez said the tea gave the young women a social opportunity to talk with women engineers and engineering technicians, including several employed at Carus Corporation, as well as with IVCC engineering technology students who are members of the Leadership Team.

Francie Skoflanc, IVCC’s program coordinator of graphic arts and a senior member of the NSF grant team, coordinated the tea.

"The Hegeler Carus Mansion is an elegant and ideal site for a Victorian tea party," Skoflanc said.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, the Mansion was constructed in 1874 by Edward Hegeler, co-founder of Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Co. and father of Mary Hegeler Carus.