Sarah Haight, 33, had what you might call a pretty normal childhood. Growing up, she danced both in ballet and jazz. In high school she played the flute in band and played volleyball and track.
It was her interest in cars that set her apart. She took auto tech her senior year in high school and, because she wanted to know how to work on her 1966 Karmann Ghia, that is how she and her other Volkswagen-owning friends spent their spare time. “On the weekends we would fix them,” she says.
Fast forward to today: After attaining a couple of degrees in mechanical engineering, holding leadership positions – one as president – in a number of student and professional organizations, stints working at Daimler Chrysler and MotivePower, lecturing and teaching at Boise State University – oh, yes, and meeting with and talking to President Obama when he came to town – Haight is now leading the operations department at Rekluse Motor Sports. That includes being in charge of production, friction bonding, assembly and shipping for the company which makes after-market clutches for motorcycles.
Haight, who points to a quote by Henry Ford as one she lives by – “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are right” – says she has soared in her industry by attitude and happenstance. “I’ve got two things not going for me: I’m female and I’m young. But I show people how I want to be treated by how I treat them,” she says. “Is it rough? Absolutely. But I don’t let that stop me … I have never had a plan on what was going to happen. I just take opportunities when they come.”
Haight is a proponent of higher education and makes a point of giving back by mentoring youth, especially women, in STEM. “I struggle saying no to anything that may improve the lives of those around me,” she says.
In a letter recommending her for this award, Amy Moll, dean of the college of engineering and professor of materials science and engineering at Boise State, says Haight has “a spirit about her that is infectious. It’s this spirit – her motivation, her excitement for learning, her dedication to those around her and the job she’s performing – that has not only guided her to leadership positions within the automotive, locomotive and motorcycle industries, but also to be a role model for the next generation of women engineers.
Haight, who says her conversation with the President was humbling, nerve-wracking and “cool,” lists climbing Mt. Borah as one of her most significant accomplishments. loves coffee “and cheese might be my favorite food.” She looks forward to whatever is coming next. And feels comfortable taking the lead.
“I have learned over the years that leadership is not a title, but instead a mindset,” she says. “My favorite part of leadership is removing the road blocks in front of those around me so we can all charge the hill together at full speed.”
Most memorable airplane trip: “I love all flights where I am able to sit at a window and watch the sunset or sunrise … flying over changing landscapes with the opportunity to just enjoy the beauty of the earth from above.”