Amie Harvey – Wearer of Many Hats
Amie Harvey (ChE ’99) isn’t one to shy away from a challenge and she proves it by wearing many metaphorical hats, including chemical engineering graduate, lieutenant in the Navy, University of Wisconsin medical student, wife, and mother of two. Her secret to the ultimate balancing act keep the important things important.
Harvey’s IIT story began as a high school student interested in math and science. At her mother’s urging, she considered engineering as a career option. Harvey was attracted to IIT because of its location, its reputation in engineering disciplines, and, most importantly, the people. She adds, “When I visited IIT, it just felt like the perfect fit. The people really welcomed me.”
She immediately threw herself into the campus environment, joining the swim and cross country teams and concentrating on her studies. Inspired by her friends in IIT’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. (ROTC), Harvey signed up for the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Candidate Program. She served on active duty her last two years of her studies and then was commissioned through Officer Candidate School in Pensacola shortly after earning her degree in 1999.
Harvey’s first assignment after her commissioning was a year of training at the Nuclear Propulsion Training Command to prepare her for her work in the Navy Nuclear Engineering Program. The skills she learned in the chemical engineering program at IIT paid dividends as she continued her training and entered the field. She remembers the program being extremely challenging and intense. “IIT prepared me to work hard, think quickly, and never give up,” she adds. “I had a very strong education coming out of IIT, and the strong base in thermodynamics, fluids, and engineering allowed me to understand information quickly so I could work on some of the harder aspects of the training, which included a large volume of materials that needed to be memorized quickly.”
Her work in the program saw her deployment and return from the Iraq war on the USS Harry S. Truman. Harvey directed her division in the full cool down, maintenance, system safety check of the ship’s reactor while in port. As she worked on shore duty in the Navy recruiting division, Harvey decided to tackle another challenge medical school.
Her acceptance and enrollment in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s medical program fulfilled a dream Harvey has had since high school that was re-ignited by the birth of her first daughter. She remarks, “Medicine gives me the opportunity to serve people directly. I just really believe it’s what I’m meant to do.”
Harvey remembers her time at IIT fondly. Her friends, late-night study sessions interrupted by ice cream runs, Chicago snowstorms and Fourth of July fireworks still seem fresh in her mind years later.
As she pursued her studies, the skills instilled in her at IIT have helped her to achieve success. “I think the challenge of the program at IIT prepared me for just about anything. I don’t really believe there is something I can’t accomplish if I really wanted it,” she comments.
With two young daughters, balance and a lot of help have been key ingredients in Harvey’s success in medical school. Her mother lived with her while her husband was deployed during her first year of classes. Now that her husband has retired from the Navy, he stays at home with the girls to help support her dream. The family operates on a schedule, and always makes time for dinner together, family activities, and bedtime stories the favorite part of Harvey’s busy days.
The future is unwritten for Harvey, and that prospect excites her. She starts her clinical rotations next year and will do her residency through the Navy. Harvey hopes to find a sense of direction as she delves deeper into her studies. She adds, “Usually, these complicated decisions just hit me, and I go with what feels right. I haven’t been disappointed yet.”
Photo: Amie Harvey accepts the 2006 IIT Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from former IIT President Lew Collens.