Susan A. Ducey
Name: Susan A. Ducey
Place of Employment: self-employed, Manager, Ducey Farm LLC
Job Title: Meteorologist
Education: Honors B.S. in Meteorology, St. Louis University, 1975
Master of Science (M.S.) in Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, 1981
I decided on a career in Meteorology at age 13. St. Louis University was the nearest college to my small farming community that offered that degree. Originally my intent was to join the Air Force after getting my degree, but I met and married an Air Force guy so I stayed as a private civilian meteorologist while he worked as an Air Force Meteorologist. I got hired to forecast the weather for commodity traders on Wall Street for companies like General Mills, Hershey, Maxwell House coffee. Rain or drought, temperature, etc affect how corn, soybeans, wheat, sugar, coffee and cocoa grow around the world. I did this for nearly 25 years. Now I use my weather forecasting skill for my own farm in Illinois.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered during your career in STEM?
Because I married an Air Force officer, we moved 14 times during his career and I had to keep finding new jobs due to our frequent moves. This was in the days before the internet when I couldn't get my weather data on my home computer.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about having a career in STEM?
For a field like Meteorology -- there are so many ways that weather influences our lives and so many people that depend upon our forecasts -- that I like to think I'm helping others every day. The weather is always changing so it is never boring and it is 24/7 all over the world -- a chance to work nearly anywhere at any time of day (or night)!
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is considering doing a Silver or Gold Award based on STEM or pursuing a career in STEM, what would that be?
Having a passion and curiosity for the subject and planning out the steps to your goal are key. Don't let the higher level math get you down. Yes, you have to do the math, but leadership and communication skills are also keys to success.
Did you have STEM mentors?
Yes, a woman mathematician named Dr. Sharon LeDuc, who recently retired from the Asheville, NC home of the National Climate Data Center. She served as an advisor on my MS degree. I named my daughter Sharon after her.
If you were a Girl Scout, what is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
I was a Girl Scout from Brownies through Seniors. My favorite memories are from the 8 week trip to Europe and Our Chalet I took with my troop when I was 16. As a small town girl, it changed my life. Also, a close 2nd is getting my First Class Award (what the Gold Award was called in the 1960s.)
If you were a Girl Scout, did Girl Scouting have an impact on your decision to pursue a career in STEM?
The Girl Scouting out-of-doors experiences in camping, hiking, etc gave me an appreciation for nature and weather. Rather than sub-atomic particles of physics, meteorology was a STEM field you can experience all around you every day and help others, also an important part of Girl Scouting.