Margaret Malmquist-West was raised in Petaluma, California. She grew up thinking a STEM discipline would be too difficult for her and feared she would be alienated in the male-dominated engineering community. At 28, after completing a language degree and spending years working in various education and service jobs, she finally began the slow and daunting process of returning to school. This meant going back to take lower-level math and science courses and completing general education requirements, all while working full-time. In 2020, she started at California State University Maritime Academy, where she is majoring in mechanical engineering and pursuing a merchant mariner credential in marine engineering. She is on the President’s List for outstanding academic performance and plays on the women’s soccer team. Service plays a key role in her life: she’s volunteered with LGBTQ-serving organizations, been a voting assistance officer, has translated for the United Nations, deployed twice with the Red Cross, and is active in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. After completing her degree, Margaret plans to work as a marine engineer aboard a ship or as a facilities engineer in a harsh environment.