How to Persevere

Cassondra Brayfield

Materials science and engineering Ph.D. candidate Cassondra Brayfield is on track to finish her degree in August, but she is quick to acknowledge that the road to success has been bumpy.

A recipient of this year's Cadence Diversity in Technology Scholarship under its Women in Technology program, Brayfield came to UC Davis from industry, most recently having worked at Intel Corporation as an R&D yield engineer.

But in the past three years, she's been a part of four different labs on campus, broken up with her long-term boyfriend and struggled with her mental health. Now that her path to her goals have smoothed, she plans to rejoin industry — to work in battery engineering.

"My passion is batteries — and I've realized it's really sustainable energy storage that the world needs right now," she said. "I find myself almost planning on contributing to saving the world.

"I may not know exactly what might be to come as I look toward the future, but I can say with certainty that it can only go up from here," she added. "Now I know that with enough determination I can handle anything."

Here, she shared some of what she's learned about perseverance over the last few years.

Seek help when you need it

After an especially difficult time, Brayfield said she began to develop symptoms of serious depression. Stress exacerbates the problem. "Through therapy and psychiatry, it's fixed," she said. "I feel like a superhero now."

Participate in extracurriculars

During her off-times, Brayfield takes ballet classes and plans parties. Through ballet classes at UC Davis, she is working toward a goal of dancing on pointe, which she estimated should happen in two to four years as she continues to improve her technique. She credits her ability to organize for her affinity for planning parties. "I threw a masquerade party in January with a live band, and I even sang with the band," she said.

Pay it forward

As a teaching assistant, Brayfield said she enjoys mentoring students and helping them find jobs after they graduate. She edits their resumes, attends career fairs to connect her students with recruiters and offers mentorship. "I continue to strive to get my students jobs," she said. "I listen to their goals and hook them up!"

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