Loni Love’s fascination with electrical engineering was ignited during her time working on a General Motors assembly line in her hometown of Detroit. That may not be the setup you’d expect for the career path of a beloved comedian and TV personality, but it was Love’s choice to pursue engineering in college that ultimately introduced her to the people and ideas that would set the course for her career in comedy.

Love enrolled at the public, historically black college Prairie A&M University in Texas, where she found herself far-outnumbered by men in her electrical engineering classes. That experience turned into positive practice for her future career in engineering. “When I got my first job, I was the only female and the only black employee in my work group,” she remembers. “They were all older white males, but I was comfortable working around men because that was my experience as an engineering student in college.”

Love credits participation in her college’s band and her sorority membership with her personal development. “I looked for the sorority that I felt addressed my particular needs,” explains Love. “I also looked at the type of alumni who came out of that sorority.” In addition to connecting her with a strong sisterhood and alumni network that followed her past graduation, the sorority helped her learn to get along with many different students. “You have to plan events,” she shares, “and that meant we had to work with other organizations and schools.” In the college band, Love got the chance to travel to other colleges and, as she puts it, “interface with different types of students.”

Today, Love is active with her alumni organization and passionate about providing opportunities for underprivileged kids to pursue higher education. Love urges women considering college to figure out what type of school will be the right fit for their educational and social experience. “Sometimes it might be a smaller college instead of a huge university.” For women pursuing engineering degrees, Love suggests checking to make sure there are organizations that support female engineers on campus. She notes that if you’re already enrolled in college and can’t find such groups, you should start one yourself.

“College students are trying to study, learn and graduate,” notes Love. But time at a university is also a wonderful opportunity to broaden your networks and try new opportunities. You never know where those opportunities might take you after school — maybe even to prime-time TV.