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Florida State University

Leah Bailey

Positivity fuels success for industrial engineering student

"A balance of success in my field and my personal family life is the most important thing for me. I don't feel I need financial success, I just want to love where I am working and then be able to go home and enjoy where I live."
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Major: Industrial Engineering
Graduation: Spring 2013


Leah Bailey spent the majority of her undergraduate career at Florida State University studying in the library and working tirelessly on projects at the Florida A&M University-FSU College of Engineering. Never wavering — and maintaining an uncommonly positive attitude — Bailey was determined to complete her degree in industrial engineering, though the major consumed much of her free time and energy.

"My major has been challenging," Bailey said. "I think most difficult for me were the entry level classes, like thermodynamics or physics, which were very demanding and required consistent studying. Engineering, in general, just took a lot of time."

Beyond her coursework, Bailey held multiple leadership positions throughout her years at Florida State. As president of the student chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, Bailey organized socials, tutoring events and prestigious certification classes, such as Six Sigma Green Belt training, which was attended by students and regional business people. Bailey also served as vice president of Alpha Pi Mu, the industrial engineering honor society, and was inducted into Phi Eta Sigma, the national honor society for first-year students.

During her sophomore year, Bailey was selected as one of 50 peer leaders to teach a Freshman Interest Group to guide 30 incoming engineering majors and prepare them for their upcoming years of rigorous coursework. In this role, Bailey designed and instituted a lesson plan that engaged her students and served to motivate them to continue with their demanding major.

"Accepting this role entails a significant time commitment as well as a high level of maturity, responsibility, and independent thinking," said Alice Wright, director of the Office of Retention in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. "Leah's participation in this program is but one example of her strengths and dedication as a leader as well as her desire to serve both the university and her fellow students."

Further expanding her involvement on campus, Bailey served as a Garnet and Gold Guide, providing athletic recruits with campus and athletics facilities tours, and assisting the visitor center with large groups.

Bailey also worked closely with Samuel A. Awoniyi, a professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at the college. In her role as a teaching assistant for his Operations Research I/II courses, she was able to make the subject easier to absorb and more enjoyable for the students. Extending her interactions with Awoniyi beyond that of a student allowed her to network with his colleagues and facilitate her networking skills in the field.

"Leah maintains a long-term view of her life and the events in it, and remains unfazed by the deadlines, workloads and constraints associated with her academic and personal pursuits," said John Taylor, undergraduate adviser at the College of Engineering. "I believe that this asset, coupled with the diligence that she has demonstrated in her academic work, will serve her well in graduate work and beyond."

Looking to employ the knowledge she earned through campus leadership and academics in a professional setting, Bailey searched for internships in the area at the end of her junior year. With the guidance of Taylor, Bailey acquired a three-month industrial engineering internship with Nestle Waters.

Though at first hesitant to pursue a position in manufacturing, because her goal is to work with logistics and supply chains, Bailey was able to take the lead on several projects that improved her confidence. One of her assignments at Nestle Waters was to resolve an issue with a malfunctioning line resource at the plant that would not fill water bottles to capacity. She successfully repaired the line resource.

"I doubted I could handle taking the lead at first, but everyone was so helpful and I felt that I had so many people around me who could support me and tell me what they know," Bailey said. "In class I never understood how I was supposed to fix a problem if I didn't know anything about a product. Nestle Waters gave me a hands-on opportunity to understand how to work in a corporate setting and how important it is to work together with your coworkers."

In addition, Bailey has made a great effort to serve the community, volunteering monthly at Greater Love, a local food bank. She also tutored children at Apalachee Elementary School, and freshman college students through FSU's Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement program.

Along with earning consecutive Dean's List of Students recognitions in her time as an undergraduate, Bailey graduated cum laude this spring and second in her industrial engineering class. She goes on to pursue an accelerated Master in Business Administration at Florida State this summer.

Bailey currently works in an assistantship with Deborah Armstrong, an associate professor of management information systems at Florida State. She would like to be challenged with a variety of work experiences and eventually manage a large corporation.

"A balance of success in my field and my personal family life is the most important thing for me," Bailey said. "I don't feel I need financial success, I just want to love where I am working and then be able to go home and enjoy where I live."