Alumnae Profiles

Cornerstones of Education

Nora Hodgson ’09
For Nora Hodgson ’09, an interest in design and architecture started at an early age—just 10—as her parents planned and built a house in California.

“I was actually old enough to understand how to generally look at the drawings and be able to see that this is going to be my room and this is going to be the garage and the upper level and the lower level,” Nora says. “Getting to see that and then coming to California and being able to see the process of building the house was really exciting.”

Just a few years later, her attention was drawn to engineering, as she observed an older cousin in his engineering master’s program at Dartmouth College, where he explored passions such as programming and formula racing.

“It made me realize that’s the kind of thing I want to do, where I can be creative but I could also have that technical side of things that I was much better at,” Nora explains.

Her love for engineering and design made her a strong student in math and science at Spence, where she credits Mr. Godsen’s Advanced Physics class with driving her pursuit of the subject.

“We could spend a double period physics class talking about two word problems and to go that much in depth about a subject and to get a real understanding of it, that was huge for me in saying I want to keep doing this,” she says.

After she exited the Red Doors, Nora headed north to Hanover, NH, to enroll at Dartmouth where she graduated in 2013 with a major in Engineering Sciences modified with Studio Art. She studied civil engineering and had a focus in product design. Her experiences in Spence’s small and nurturing classrooms made her unafraid at Dartmouth to ask for help, form study groups and be confident in an academic setting that was mostly male.

“With how we learned at Spence and how we learned to think critically, you can go into engineering, really find your niche and not be afraid to do it,” she says.

And now, many miles from New York and Hanover, Nora puts her knowledge and talents to work as a project coordinator at Marx|Okubo, an architecture and engineering consulting firm that provides building assessment services to buyers and sellers in the real estate market. She cites engineering’s focus on “deductive reasoning and flexibility” as a strength that she brings to her professional life.

As for any advice she might have for a young Spence girl interested in a future in engineering: “Just go for it.”