Rachael Siecinski’s career path to engineering has been a circuitous one. A family connection and desire to chart a new course led to Rachael enrolling in Brookdale in 2018.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from William Paterson University in 2006 but couldn’t find employment in the field, working several jobs in different industries over the ensuing years. She wanted more professionally and decided to go back to school.

“My mom was going here at the time and spoke so highly of Brookdale,” said Siecinski, a Sayreville, N.J. resident who now resides in Freehold, N.J. “I knew that I had to go here too and haven’t been disappointed.”

In addition to encouraging her daughter to start anew at Brookdale, Siecinksi’s mom, Robin, who earned her associate’s degree in business administration in 2019, was on hand to lend support in the classroom. Mother and daughter shared an astronomy class.

“It was surreal and a lot of fun at the same time,” said Rachael. “It certainly wasn’t something I could have predicted looking back on my life and career.”

Siecinski will graduate in May with her associate’s degree in mechanical engineering. She has been active in numerous clubs and activities on campus, including Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Engineering Club, the Physics Club and Women in Engineering, Science & Technology (W.E.S.T.) club.  She was also nominated for the Outstanding Student in STEM award.

After taking a semester off, Siecinski will continue her education at Rutgers University to complete a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. She aims to work in the spacecraft design field.

Engineering’s hands-on approach in creating, constructing and fixing attracted Siecinski.

“I always loved buildings things as a kid, whether it was Legos, puzzles or craft project,” said Siecinski. “When thinking about what type of career to pursue at this stage in my life, engineering just seemed to fit, and I have not been disappointed.”

She credits Professor Lisa Hailey in the Engineering Department as someone who has been a real motivator and mentor.

Rachael Siecinski and Joan Ali Scocco.
Rachael Siecinski with Dr. Joan Ali Scocco, who created the Paul Ali Memorial Scholarship with her sister in remembrance of their father.

Siecinski realizes none of her achievements to date and what she aspires to accomplish in the coming years would have been possible without the Paul Ali Memorial Scholarship.

“The Ali Scholarship has been a huge help and is allowing me to focus on my education,” said Siecinski. “I was laid off last year and without this scholarship award both semesters, it’s unlikely that I would have been able to complete my degree at Brookdale, impacting my academic and career plans.”

The Siecinski connection to Brookdale remains intact after Rachael graduates in May. Her brother, Michael, a math and science major, currently attends Brookdale.