I graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a Minor in Business Administration in May 2013. Then in August 2013, I began my graduate degree (M.S.C.E.) in Structural Engineering at Oklahoma State University (OSU), which I will follow with a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering at OSU starting in the fall of 2015. I decided on a career in academia to research the technology of tomorrow and empower future generations of students to pursue their dreams of earning a STEM degree. Currently, I work as a graduate research and teaching assistant in the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology at OSU, which allows me to shadow professors and actively engage with their students. My driving passions are to advance my field through state-of-the-art research and to positively influence my students as my professors have influenced me.
I completed the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) in May 2013 and joined 100 other students in the nation with this honor. My faculty mentor was Jane Petrus, Student Success Specialist, who helped me tremendously by providing feedback and support. Upon completion, I presented on my collegiate performance and future endeavors to my peers. My fellow GCSP graduates at Tech were Jake Eppehimer, Ryan Land, and Nicole Roberts. I consider the GCSP to be one of the best programs at Tech. I heard about the program when Dr. Jenna Carpenter presented to the National Society of Black Engineers my freshman year. The 14 Grand Challenges addressed by the program are substantial challenges that future STEM majors will have to advance and improve upon. I chose the challenge, “To restore and improve urban infrastructure,” due to my interest in infrastructure sustainability and structures. The five components of the GCSP are research experience, interdisciplinary curriculum, entrepreneurship, global dimension, and service learning. These components are crucial in shaping the integrity, depth, and diversity of future STEM majors.
In conclusion, I truly believe the Grand Challenge Scholars Program goes hand-in-hand with my ambitions. The GCSP provided insight into the direction of my research in my academic career and enhanced my global perspective. This program led to my participation in the Global Grand Challenges Summit Competition where my submission was PureSol, a solar-powered water purifier. This experience enhanced my global awareness and helped me expand my international outreach. Through the GCSP, I encountered distinguished mentors, interacted with intelligent and motivated students, and joined an elite program that targets the advancement of modern society in the 21st century. As a structural engineer and professor, I will use what I have learned in this program to promote technical competency, collaboration, entrepreneurship, global diversity, and service. This program has enforced my passion to make a difference in my university, my community, my profession, and my students through my civic focus, technical capabilities, and passion for humanity. I am glad that I was able to complete my freshman year vision of becoming a Grand Challenge Scholar, and I highly encourage others to join this phenomenal program.