Alexandra Yuhas ’18 began her undergraduate career at Berea College as a double major, studying both mathematics and education studies. After questioning whether teaching was truly the right path for her, she decided to drop her education studies major and pursue a degree solely in mathematics. In addition to her academic success, she served as president of the Berea chapter of the Mortar Board Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Chi, but still Yuhas remained unsure of her career goals until her final semester at Berea, when she took a class for career development and readiness.
It was through this class that Yuhas attended the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics, a conference highlighting women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. In one of the career panels, she heard an Epic employee talking about what she does and how much she loves her job. That was all Yuhas needed to hear. She pursued a career at Epic and has been there going on four years.
Epic is a private healthcare software company that builds and maintains software for healthcare organizations worldwide to store and protect electronic patient records. Just one year after starting at Epic, Yuhas was promoted to a leadership position where she manages more than a dozen people.
“In pop culture, the tech industry job is a guy working at a desk by himself, coding in the dark, and it’s all quiet,” she said, laughing. “That’s just not how it is. Everybody on my team is so helpful. We are often congregating in other people’s offices to troubleshoot together as a unit rather than a single person in their office. I think that was a huge misconception I had before I started at Epic.”
Though she took computer science courses during her undergraduate studies, Yuhas shared that the liberal arts aspect of her degree had the most significant impact on her career.
“The communication classes and the general education classes that help you think outside the box have helped me significantly,” she said. “I manage a team of 17 people, and so being able to talk to people and meet them where they are and having the experience from Berea of being around people from all over the world is hugely impactful in my management career.”
Now 26, her successful post-graduate career has enabled her to make a gift to the College’s Building a Technology Future Like No Other campaign and to name a space in the new technology building currently under construction. She has always been interested in giving back to Berea, and with her career at Epic, Yuhas realized she was in a position to give back in a larger way and a lot earlier than she expected. While she entertained the idea of establishing a scholarship to help cover conference expenses for students, she ultimately decided to name a space as a way to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM.
“I was surrounded by women mentors,” she said, “and then thrown into a company with very few women, and this inspired me to reach back into my roots at Berea and change the landscape for people coming after me.”
Yuhas participates in women empowerment through Epic, including an employee resource group that focuses on women in the workplace as well as thoughtful candidate recruitment. She sees the shift coming, not just for women in the technology industry, but minorities as well.
“Just in the last couple of years, there’s been a shift in focus in hiring and in how we write job descriptions to encourage people of varying backgrounds to apply,” she said. “If we can have people going to class and maybe even struggling in their computer science class like I was when I was a sophomore, and seeing the name Alexandra Yuhas—which is clearly the name of a woman—in tech, that’s empowering. I’m a fan of the philosophy that we need to see people who represent us in these positions so we can thrive as well.”