I was excited at the idea of coming to a small school because I really wanted to get to know my professors. My academic adviser, Professor Beiler, has become a great mentor.
"I play water polo, so I learned about Bucknell when we came here for summer camps. When I was invited for an official visit, I really fell in love with it. I'm a very competitive person, which is why I pursued Division I. I like the level that we play at and that our team is close, which helps us in and out of the water. Having a group of friends who understand each other has been a great benefit from the beginning, and my coach is also an important mentor to us.
"Ever since middle school, I wanted to pursue civil engineering. Ultimately, my dream is to do something with sustainability or infrastructure. That dream started when I saw the devastation that happened after Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to figure out what I could do in the future, in America or anywhere in the world, to be able to help build infrastructure to prevent that type of damage.
"I was excited at the idea of coming to a small school because I really wanted to get to know my professors. My academic adviser, Professor Beiler, has become a great mentor. I started by asking her how I could meet my goals for the future. When I started doing research with her, we became even closer. She's been unbelievably supportive.
"The research we worked on last summer involved rating the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the local rail trail. We used the Green Paths sustainability rating system, which uses different criteria, like how accessible the trail is, if there are recycling bins along the trail, what type of material the trail is made of and what amenities are nearby.
"The criteria look at how much positive and negative effect the trail will have on the community over the next dozen years. I wrote a paper on our findings that has since been published in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation.
"I recently got accepted to the Pathways Student Intern Program to work for the Federal Highway Administration. This summer, I'll be stationed in Sterling, Va., but I'll be traveling between Virginia and South Carolina working on different construction sites to learn what's going on in the field. I'm not sure exactly what that will look like yet, but I can't wait for the experience."
Shyla is from Mechanicsburg, Pa.
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