PELHAM, N.Y. -- Three years ago, a tree crashed down on the Nashville, Tenn., house that Lindsay Peckham was prepared to buy. Now living in Pelham and beginning her second semester at Westchester Community College, a new life filled with promise and prosperity awaits her.
“It’s a moment I think about all too often,’’ said Peckham, who will be honored along with Briarcliff High School senior Brigitte Obermeyer at the upcoming Women In Tech Awards Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 1, at Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown. “I think what happened if that tree did not fall and I did not get out of the contract to buy that house.”
The luncheon is sponsored by the Westchester County Association. Obermeyer and Peckham will be honored for their achievements and passion for science, technology, engineering and math. Five professional women will also be honored at the luncheon for their achievements in technology, health tech and bio tech.
Peckham put a down payment on home in Nashville and was preparing to close the deal. When a storm blew through and damaged the house, she was given the option to void the contract or go through with the purchase. “I had a small window to pull out without penalty,’’ Peckham said. “I went home and said to myself this doesn’t feel right. I pulled out and that day, I started to put things in motion to go back to school.”
Peckham, who graduated from high school near Boston, returned to Massachusetts for community college and stayed one semester. Her sister, Jessica Yalmakos, encouraged her to move to Pelham and live there with her and her family, which includes three children and her husband.
Peckham enrolled at Westchester CC and embraced the atmosphere from the outset. She plans to finish with a two-year degree in 2016 in cyber security. She has started an outreach program to encourage high school students to get them to consider a career in science, math or technology. She also works as a volunteer tutor for other college students.
“I hope that my journey, as crazy at it is, can inspire someone else,’’ Peckham said. “If someone’s not getting to the goals they want, be a dreamer. Don’t be stuck in a job you don’t love.”
When Peckham graduated from high school, she went directly to the business world. She had always had an interest in science and math. “I was the girl who always tinkered with broken toasters and electronics,’’ she said. “I had the junior chemistry set and blew things up.”
When Peckham joined the workforce, she found ways to incorporate technical skills into her job. “I became the Jill of All Trades at every position I held,’’ she said. “I got fast-tracked in the corporate world and climbed the ladder. I thought a lot about going back to school.”
The business for which she worked in Nashville was also struggling financially, and the job market was competitive, especially for people without college degrees. “I was keeping my eyes open,’’ Peckham said. “Education was becoming an issue. My education couldn’t stand behind my resume.”
Peckham hopes to find a position in information security for a small business or non-profit when she gets her bachelor’s degree. “I feel like there’s so much on the table,’’ Peckham said. “There was a time I felt stuck. Now it feels like a buffet.”
Peckham feels humbled by the recognition from the Westchester Business Association. And proud. “I remember driving home, I’m like why me?’’ she said. “There are so many amazing people with amazing stories. It was truly wonderful for John Watkins (a cybersecurity instructor at WCC) to think of me. I didn’t expect to be on the short list and then to win. It’s truly incredibly, and I am ecstatic and humbled.”
Click here to register for the luncheon.