Hello! I am a recent Virginia Tech graduate with a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering and an EIT certification. I come from a middle-class, Caucasian family in Pittsburgh that disqualified me from receiving financial aid and forced me to take out loans over my four years in college, resulting in over $110,000 of debt. As a result, I am a graduate buried in student loan debt as I begin my engineering career.
When applying to colleges as a high school senior, I was hoping to receive some financial aid through scholarships based on my gender and my talents in math and science. I had the test scores, extra-curricular activities, and grades to prove my work ethic and abilities, but I wasn’t a recipient – all of the female engineering scholarships were awarded to those with more diversity or less income than myself despite how hard I had to work. I graduated from a public, suburban Pittsburgh high school where competition for college acceptance was high and, once accepted, I was thrown into a collegiate academic environment where all my classmates came from Northern Virginia private high schools that offered Calculus 3 to middle schoolers. I was academically challenged through both high school and college, but I was able to thrive in college and be named to the Dean’s List for 3 semesters.
During my time in college, I completed two summer internships with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), worked on event staff at PNC Park, and was a Peer Mentor to college freshman in my engineering living-learning community at Virginia Tech. These opportunities provided me with crucial communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills to build future personal success. In addition to work experiences, I was a member of the Concrete Canoe design team, where my team members and I designed, fluid tested, and constructed a canoe made of concrete over the course of a semester and a half. The final design was presented and raced at a regional American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) conference, where we came in second place my senior year. I was also a coxswain on the club rowing team.
Since graduation, I have been both working at an engineering firm and volunteering my time with a local rowing team. Over the summer months, I assisted disabled rowers on the adaptive team by handling equipment, ensuring rower safety entering and exiting the shells, and rowing in the boat as an able-bodied rower to safely guide the boat. In the fall and winter, I coach an all-female team for disadvantaged girls, providing technique corrections and support to the high-schoolers. I currently work during the day, coach in the afternoon, and finish my work hours remotely in the evening. While it keeps me busy and unable to have a second paid job, I love both rowing and giving back to my community!
It's been 7 months of working and coaching, and although my paycheck provides me the ability to pay back my minimum monthly payments, I am facing student loan debt for the next 20 years which will hinder my ability to save money for my future family. If I can reduce the amount of student debt bearing down on my shoulders, I will able to afford moving out of my parent’s house and begin saving for my future children. In addition, I will be able to give more back to my community through donations to my local rowing program and engineering societies (for scholarship use). I sincerely appreciate any help I can get so that I may lessen this financial burden!