Recognition and opportunity are fundamental values of CAMBUS. In acknowledgement of International Women’s Day, CAMBUS is highlighting several of the department’s student leaders who are women. The leaders shared their thoughts on working in a traditionally male occupation, how they've navigated their roles and gained leadership skills, and the importance of representation and workplace culture.

Beating the industry odds

“In terms of leadership roles, our female mechanics are one of the most important representations of women in leadership roles” says Clubb. 

Clubb’s assessment of the gender disparity in public transit is supported by data collected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2021 according to the data, 2.3% of automotive or transit technicians are women and 41% of bus drivers are women.  

“As an organization, ensuring our workplace is inclusive for all is really important,” says CAMBUS operations manager Mia Brunelli. “On the job training for all student positions creates an environment where any student can learn a skill and be successful.”

"When people interact with the women in leadership roles at CAMBUS, it proves that diverse leadership teams are successful. We need everyone's backgrounds and ideas."
Nichole Winter, dispatcher

“The bus doesn't care what gender the driver is. Women and nonbinary people also make amazing drivers, trainers, assistants, dispatchers, student mechanics, supervisors, and managers,” says Mutter. 

“Representation is important to create a cooperative work environment. When people interact with the women in leadership roles at CAMBUS, it proves that diverse leadership teams are successful. We need everyone's backgrounds and ideas,” says Winter. 

brie clubb

Brie Clubb

Current position: dispatcher

Course of study: radiology

dilbert

Kristina Dibert

Current position: student mechanic

Course of study: pharmacy

gearhart

Madi Gearhart

Current position: trainer

Course of study: biomedical engineering

holevoet

Alyson Holevoet

Current position: personnel supervisor

Course of study: music studies, ceramics

Developing women leaders, developing new skills

Supporting campus accessibility and mobility is no small task. It takes a team of 160 student - drivers and support staff - to provide 3 million rides per year to university students, staff, faculty, and visitors. Both the university community and student staff benefit from the employment opportunities at CAMBUS. Through these experiences, student staff develop and gain new skills that transfer to their academics, personal lives, and beyond graduation. 

“As a trainer, I have gained confidence in my communication skills. This has allowed me to openly and confidently lead in group projects. As an engineering major, having the confidence to communicate my ideas has been very beneficial to my academic success. This skill of communication will continue to be fruitful beyond college,” says Gearhart. 

“In interviewing [and onboarding] new hires, my ability to communicate new information to others in a way that is unique to their personal understanding has grown. I feel more comfortable discussing things in one-on-one conversations, and I have learned to communicate effectively with a broader variety of people,” says Vogel. 

CAMBUS student leaders also described how gaining experience working with multiple groups has contributed to their professional growth. “Becoming a student mechanic has expanded my teamwork and leadership skills. I enjoy the opportunities I have working alongside full-time mechanics, student mechanics, and coworkers,” says Dibert. 

mutter

Shelby Mutter

Current position: scheduling supervisor

Course of study: music education

runge

Rylee Runge

Current position: trainer

Course of study: sport and recreation management, social justice

vogel

Brianna Vogel

Current position: personnel supervisor

Course of study: dance, psychology

winter

Nichole Winter

Current position: dispatcher

Course of study: electrical engineering

Gaining experience at work and confidence beyond the workplace

“Dispatching has strengthened my decision-making and made me a more confident leader. I feel comfortable taking leadership roles in group projects, interacting with others respectfully, matching tasks with people's strengths, and delegating those tasks,” says Winter. 

“A big thing that I'm learning is how to be more confident, and it's helped in multiple areas of my life,” says Holevoet. “There are people that count on me, and I've learned how to manage my time better because of that. These skills have helped me in stepping into the role of president of the university's student ceramics club--Children of the Clay.”  

"A big thing that I'm learning is how to be more confident, and it's helped in multiple areas of my life."
Alyson Holevoet, personnel supervisor

Diversity in leadership blossoms from a core value of inclusivity

Creating an environment where everyone belongs is foundational to achieving representation and diversity across all levels of leadership. “CAMBUS has been the most welcoming workplace I have worked at. I love that it was built on being student operated and has stayed that way. The other thing I love is that everyone respects each other,” adds Runge. 

“CAMBUS has an incredibly welcoming and inclusive workplace, and our employees set the tone for that. Representation truly matters, and I think that CAMBUS does a great job of showing that anyone can succeed in our workplace,” says Vogel. 

“I work with people who come from all different backgrounds and beliefs. There is no judgement about the person you are, and that’s what I love most about CAMBUS,” says Dilbert. 

"Representation truly matters, and I think that CAMBUS does a great job of showing that anyone can succeed in our workplace."
Brianna Vogel, personnel supervisor

“We have a very inclusive and welcoming environment, and everybody is respectful and friendly. We have people of many different backgrounds working at CAMBUS and that's something I'll always love about my job,” says Holevoet. 

Advice to women thinking about taking on leadership roles

Applying and being selected for a promoted position at CAMBUS means stepping into a highly visible role where over 100 drivers depend on their efforts. At one point in their employment, each of these women were student drivers thinking about applying for an opportunity to be a leader. Leaders were asked to share advice for women thinking about taking the next step in their endeavors. 

“To any women that are hesitant to take the first steps, the best advice I have is to trust in your ability,” says Vogel. “There is a reason that you are interested, and that reason is that you are capable of being a successful leader!” 

"It's easy to stick to what you're comfortable with, but it's more rewarding to adapt and learn something new."
Madi Gearhart, trainer

If you’re hesitant, they also emphasized the importance of reaching out to your support network. "When I was going through the application process, I almost talked myself out of it several times. I wasn't sure if I'd be good enough, but my friends and family members kept encouraging me,” says Mutter. 

“The first step is always the most intimidating - if you’re interested in a leadership position, find out more information, figure out what the steps to get there would be,” says Clubb. “It is also helpful to envision yourself in the role you want.” 

“When I applied for the trainer promotion, I was unsure about a lot. It's easy to stick to what you're comfortable with, but it's more rewarding to adapt and learn something new,” says Gearhart. 

“Taking those first steps can be so intimidating, but also so rewarding in the end! Trust the universe and remind yourself how amazing you are!” says Runge. 

Student leadership at CAMBUS

CAMBUS employs on average 160 student employees. Approximately a quarter of those student employees assume additional responsibilities in support staff or supervisor roles. In addition to driving, support and supervisor staff perform or oversee vital function of operations including bus maintenance, daily operations, hiring, scheduling, and training. Highlighting and supporting the women that fill leadership roles is just one way that CAMBUS is committed to building a culture of recognition and inclusion.