When Yasmeen Arafeh and Katie Sheibley first met on a study abroad trip in 2015, they didn’t expect to cross paths again. But Katie and Yasmeen’s paths would cross just a short year later at Southern Nuclear Company (SNC) in Birmingham.
Katie, an engineer in Environmental Affairs at SNC, joined Southern Company as a co-op student in 2013 and was hired full-time in 2016. She first heard about the Southern Company co-op program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where she studied civil engineering.
“Southern Company’s co-op program is viewed as prestigious and competitive,” Katie explains. “They have a very strong presence on UAB’s campus.”
Yasmeen was only a few years behind Katie in school and, like Katie, was a UAB student studying civil engineering. Yasmeen knew the Southern Company co-op program was highly sought after and she was motivated to do well in school so she could qualify for the program. Yasmeen’s hard work paid off when, in 2016, she began her co-op assignment at SNC, where she was placed on the same team as Katie.
“It’s such a unique situation because Yasmeen, unknowingly, has followed in my footsteps,” Katie describes. “We both followed the same path before we even knew each other, being involved in the same campus organizations and leadership activities and committing ourselves to academic success.”
Katie and Yasmeen now work side-by-side on a tight-knit team in new nuclear development. Katie is able to guide Yasmeen through the ins and outs of the co-op experience because she once was in the same position. This unique bond has led to an inspiring mentor-mentee relationship filled with understanding and encouragement.
“Katie has been able to help me and teach me when I don’t understand something,” explains Yasmeen. “I look up to her because she is very successful and valued in the company.”
Recently, Yasmeen received UAB’s Outstanding Undergraduate Engineer of the Year award, an achievement Katie also received as a student. Yasmeen has one more rotation in her co-op program, which she will fulfill this fall. After graduation, she hopes to continue on the same path as Katie.
Yasmeen and Katie are both thankful for the experience the co-op program afforded them. Their challenge to other students is to strive for excellence. “Set goals and have a questioning attitude so you are continuously learning. These things combined will set you up for success in the workforce."