Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Christina Nelson ’11

Christina Nelson ’11

  • Systems engineer
  • Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Portsmouth, R.I.

Christina Nelson is responsible for the software integration and testing on a new class of Navy destroyer. Working for defense contractor Raytheon, she and her team take software from various development groups, put it all together and make sure it works as designed. After integrating all the software, finding problems and testing solutions, she and her team communicate with Navy officials and run tests to make sure the software meets the Navy’s standards.

When she came to Wheaton, she had no experience in computer science and didn’t see herself in a technology career, but that changed the summer after her freshman year. While working on the Lexomics project with Professor of Computer Science Mark LeBlanc, she became “hooked on programming.” (Lexomics is the analysis of the frequency, distribution and arrangement of words in large-scale patterns.)

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

“I liked seeing that you could use new methods to solve old problems,” she says. She went on to a major in computer science and mathematics. Professor LeBlanc recommended her for a summer internship at Raytheon, and a full-time position followed.

“My liberal arts education taught me how to problem solve, pulling from different experiences when trying to find a solution,” she says. “Having studied a wide variety of subjects at Wheaton, I feel comfortable taking on tasks that involve more than just a software background.” With less than one year on the job, she was asked to be the primary author on the testing her team performed.

Pamela “Pam” Perkins Au ’81

Pamela “Pam” Perkins Au ’81

  • Director, information technology quality and compliance strategy
  • Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.

Pam Au didn’t expect to work in technology, but an opportunity to be a pioneer in the early ’80s changed her mind. After interning for Congresswoman Margaret Heckler, the government major was offered a position in business applications programming at Merrill Lynch.

“Wall Street was making a huge investment in technology. There were few women in IT in the brokerage industry, and it was an opportunity to learn, grow and develop,” she says.

She went through a 12-week training program, learning COBOL and other programming languages. “It was really technical,” she says. “To this day, I am so proud of making it through that training.”

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

Now Au is responsible for the development and execution of Johnson & Johnson’s global IT quality and compliance strategy. She recently led a team to transform the way IT systems and services are delivered by streamlining the systems development life-cycle process and making it more user-friendly.

“As a liberal arts major, I learned to look at things holistically,” she says. “[Professor of Political Science] Darlene Boroviak taught me not to set boundaries.”

With more than 30 years in IT, Au enjoys serving as a mentor to young women and men interested in technology careers. “It’s what I love most about my job,” she says. “Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve accomplished by working with people in teams.”

Bridget Pulice ’08

Bridget Pulice ’08National success consultant

Bullhorn, Inc., Boston

An Italian studies major with a minor in psychology, Bridget Pulice was recruited by Bullhorn at a job fair at Wheaton. “I did not intend to pursue a career in technology,” she says.

The Boston-based company is a global leader in the production of software that helps recruiting professionals track applicants.

Initially hired as a technical support analyst, where she provided phone and email assistance to customers in 150 countries, she now works primarily with dissatisfied clients who are at risk for terminating their contracts. Pulling from her Wheaton toolbox, she facilitates relationships with these clients as she works to identify and solve their issues. Her efforts have resulted in a 95 percent retention rate.

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

Though her work record is impressive, Pulice is most proud of earning her master’s degree in international relations and communications in 2012 from Boston University while working full time at Bullhorn.

“One of the best things about Wheaton is that everyone has a voice,” she says. “I was never afraid to speak up in the classroom, and this has certainly helped my confidence and communication skills in the workplace.”

Pulice says her undergraduate education gave her a variety of skills and knowledge about a range of topics.

“Thanks to Wheaton, I have all the tools I need to learn new things and succeed in any path,” she says. “You want me to converse in another language? Sure. You want me to fix your computer? No problem.”

Talent, luck star in award-winning producer’s life

Emmy Award–winning television producer and founder and president of Molly Two Productions.“A series of happy accidents,” that’s how Marion Lear Swaybill ’63 describes the journey that took her from a Wheaton freshman to Emmy Award–winning television producer and founder and president of Molly Two Productions.

“There was no path,” says Swaybill, “no bold idea.”

Marion Lear Swaybill ’63Swaybill majored in American history, “mainly because it interested me.” History proved fertile ground for the future documentary filmmaker. Her films have covered a wide range of topics: the Holocaust (“Witness: Voices from the Holocaust,” 2000); growing up in war-torn Kosovo (“A Normal Life,” 2003, winner of the Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary award); sex trafficking in America (“10,000 Men,” 2012); and choral music (“Conspirare: A Company of Voices,” 2009).

After graduating from Wheaton, Swaybill studied for her master’s degree in social work at Columbia University but left after a year. Though she worked in foster care for a time afterward, social work did not fulfill her, she says.

In the spring of 1966, she met Roger Swaybill, her future husband. “He hated the fact that I didn’t like what I was doing and encouraged me to quit my job and find something more satisfying—and fun. So I did.”

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