Outstanding Collegiate Member

Celia Kornegay

Georgia Institute of Technology

For supporting her peers by being a reliable and proactive leader; for building an inclusive environment that welcomes and retains SWE members; and for inspiring others through outreach and service.

Celia Kornegay joined the Society of Women Engineers in her first year at the Georgia Institute of Technology serving as chair of middle school outreach and organizing STEM events for middle school students. Her involvement in the Georgia Tech SWE Section blossomed as she took on more leadership roles, including vice president of finance, vice president of membership, and president in her final year.

Throughout her SWE involvement, Kornegay has continued to nurture positive connections among section leadership, section members, campus groups, and university administrators. She has also sought to become an impactful leader by participating in SWE’s yearlong Leadership Development Program and Collegiate Leader Institute. She has attended WE conferences both in person and virtually and has shared what she has learned through programming and by mentoring Georgia Tech SWE leadership.

The global pandemic sidelined many campus activities as colleges and universities turned to virtual learning and limited in-person gatherings. Kornegay, vice president of membership at the time, was part of a team that transitioned Tea with the Dean to a virtual event. The tea is the section’s largest recruitment event for first-year women engineering students. To avoid losing the opportunity to welcome 300 newcomers to the Georgia Tech SWE community, she organized virtual breakout sessions to allow students in the same major to interact with faculty and current students, successfully simulating an in-person experience.

Upon taking on the role of president, Kornegay guided eight new SWE leaders as they returned to campus and in-person learning and adopted procedures that followed campuswide COVID restrictions to ensure social events, industry visits, and meetings could take place safely. She led a team of 30 new leaders and sought to balance support with decision-making freedom to enable section leaders to form their own styles. She volunteered at all section events, organized retreats to build camaraderie, and hosted coffee chats to get to know section members. These and other initiatives led to Kornegay’s receiving the 2021 WE Local Rising Star Award and the 2022 WE Local Guiding Star Award.

Among campus activities, she helped start the Reimagine, Inspire, Serve, Empower leadership organization for first-year students and partnered with the Georgia Tech Women’s Resource Center to advocate gender equity and social justice. She has collaborated with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers to sponsor diversity-themed events such as a TED Talk-style program featuring underrepresented students sharing their experiences in STEM fields.

Kornegay is a scholarship recipient and a member of the Chi Epsilon honor society and the American Society of Civil Engineers. She completed a B.S. in civil engineering in May 2022 and works at Eberly & Associates as a site design staff engineer in Atlanta, Georgia. Kornegay continues to support SWE through involvements as a leadership coach for collegiate sections and as a board member for the SWE Atlanta Section.

In her free time, the Thomasville, Georgia, resident enjoys sampling new food, cross-stitching, and traveling.