Growing up, Jessie Yousif-Dickow spent a lot of time with her father, who was a mechanic and a truck driver, so it’s no surprise she developed a love for cars.
As a freshman at North Farmington High School, she took an auto mechanics class and loved it. She ended up taking auto classes each year, learning how to do brake jobs, oil changes, tire rotations and more. She wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, but her mother pointed out the physical toll being a mechanic takes on the body and suggested she consider a career in engineering.
In her junior year, Yousif-Dickow’s North Farmington auto class did an electrical unit that sparked her interest, and her teacher encouraged her to enter a statewide automotive electrical competition. Yousif-Dickow decided that if she placed among the top in the competition, she would go to college for electrical engineering; if she didn’t, she would try mechanical engineering. She took first place.
When it came time to pick a college, Yousif-Dickow — who is from a devout Chaldean family — prayed for God’s guidance. The answer came in the form of a generous scholarship offer from Wayne State University, where her mom, sister and brother are alumni.
Upon arriving at Wayne State in 2018, Yousif-Dickow was reserved and kept to herself. However, that began to change after she excelled in an introductory engineering class and her professor, James Lenn, asked her to become one of his student assistants.
“I would say my whole life changed,” said Yousif-Dickow. “Professor Lenn is awesome and has been the biggest mentor. Working with him, I got to meet so many people from different backgrounds and broaden my group of friends. I improved my communication and professional skills as an 18-year-old. It also helped me sharpen my technical skills and learn how to 3D print and how to use CAD modeling software.”
Yousif-Dickow then placed in the top 5% of Professor Mohaamad Hassoun’s notoriously difficult electrical engineering classes, earning her an invitation to work as one of his tutors.
Electrical engineering turned out to be her calling.
“I love it,” said Yousif-Dickow. “I like the creativity. I work better when there’s a problem to solve.”
Her passion led her to become student president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, where she has worked to educate other students on electrical engineering career opportunities, organize lab tours and workshops in the Engineering Building, and plan social events, including a recent outing to a Detroit Pistons game.
Yousif-Dickow will graduate in December after only three-and-a-half years and begin working for General Motors in January.
“I love how GM is very technical. I believe my leadership — both tutoring and being a student assistant — and automotive background really helped me get that position.”
Yousif-Dickow will also continue at Wayne State. She is enrolled in AGRADE, the university’s accelerated graduate program, which gives top students an opportunity to take classes that simultaneously apply toward both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She will add another WSU degree after just five more classes.
And her Wayne State experience may not end there.
“I want to retire as a professor. That’s one of my dreams or goals. I would love to come back to Wayne State later and lecture or be a professor, because I really love academia. It’s really awesome to do the work, but I think it’s also awesome to teach and learn and to expand your knowledge in all directions.”