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Amanda Wall, 2012 WTS Sharon D. Banks Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Amanda_Wall

Amanda Wall was studying civil engineering at Georgia Tech when she flew out to Denver in 2012 to receive the WTS Sharon D. Banks Memorial Scholarship at the Annual Conference.  In just one year’s time, thanks to that scholarship and powerful mentors at WTS, Amanda has landed at Parsons Brinckerhoff, poised to become a leader in the transportation industry herself in the very near future.

WTS pulled Amanda Wall from her busy schedule to find out just how she landed where she is, and where she’s headed in the future.  

WTS International: What were you studying at the time you received the Sharon D. Banks Memorial Scholarship in 2012?

Amanda Wall: I was studying transportation policy and finance while working on my Masters in Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.  I received a BS in Civil Engineering from there as well.  My greatest accomplishment while at Georgia Tech was my perfect 4.0 GPA throughout my years there.  I was also the first in my family to graduate from college—and the first to receive a Masters degree.

WTS: Where has your path taken you since you received your scholarship?

A. Wall: My school advisor, Dr. Michael Meyer, introduced me to my mentor, Dr. Beverly Scott, a WTS member who was serving as MARTA’s CEO and General Manager at the time. She was a strong and impressive female leader in my field, and has since moved on to Boston to serve as MBTA’s General Manager and MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator. I looked up to her and soaked up all she had to teach me.  I interned for her in 2012 for close to a year as her personal research assistant, working for her and other MARTA leadership in the executive offices. This was an incredible position and opportunity that introduced me to my passion, transit policy. 

While in Denver to receive the Sharon D. Banks Memorial Scholarship in 2012 at the WTS Annual Conference I met a number of supportive and inspirational women, many serving as leaders in the transportation field from all across the nation, including Jennifer Mitchell, Principal Consultant with Parsons Brinckerhoff and a WTS International Board member. Jennifer and I exchanged business cards, and after a year of correspondence she recruited me to relocate from my home town of Atlanta, Georgia, to work in Washington, DC, with Parsons Brinckerhoff in their Strategic Consulting practice, a prestigious group that specializes in a number of transportation areas, including transit policy and finance. 

WTS: Was it a difficult decision to make the move from Atlanta to Washington?

A. Wall: I was certain I would never relocate from my hometown and my family. Plus, I had devoted two years to transportation policy and finance in the region, writing my thesis on the Georgia Transportation Investment Act of 2010 and public referendum that failed in the Atlanta region in 2012. My thesis had immersed me in transportation policy in Atlanta, and I was quite passionate about my future in the city’s transportation field.  However, this new career opportunity gave me the ability to get involved in national transportation policy and place myself in the middle of everything. I made the move and haven’t looked back—I can make a difference in Washington.

WTS: What do you do in your role at Parsons Brinckerhoff?

A. Wall: I am an Associate Consultant for their Strategic Consulting practice. I work in the Transportation Project Development and Finance Group. Since I started work in early June, I have worked on several transit policy projects across the nation. This is my dream job—I am blessed to have such a wonderful opportunity in my life.

WTS: What is it about the transportation industry that keeps you excited?

A. Wall: Transportation is all around us. I know that what I do directly affects the quality of life of others. The policy aspect excites me because my work in policy essentially analyzes and improves upon what we have done in the past in transportation. It is important for me to know that my work will make the world a better place for future generations.

I take transit every day, twice a day. And when I am on the Metro, I see the lasting effects of my work.  The commuters on the train have realized that in a city like DC, riding the train is not only better for the environment, and thus our future, but it is also economical and convenient. In cities like Atlanta, the public has not yet realized the benefits of transit. This discussion is fascinating to me, and is highly relevant when talking about the future of our nation.  I want to move the needle on this issue through my work on transit policy and finance. Being reminded of this every day on my commute keeps me excited about my career and goals in this field.

WTS: How did your WTS scholarship help get you to where you are today?

A. Wall: The WTS Sharon D. Banks Memorial Scholarship allowed me to lessen my student loan debt.  But more importantly, the scholarship allowed me to meet WTS members who were looking to advance a deserving young woman into the transportation field. And it is because of WTS and its mission to advance women in transportation, and members like Dr. Beverly Scott and Jennifer Mitchell—women that believed in me—that I am where I am today. 

WTS: Do you feel that WTS is a worthwhile organization for others to be a part of?

A. Wall: WTS has provided me with the opportunities that have allowed me to reach my goals. WTS is a wonderful organization for young professionals to be a part of. It has a vibrant network of leaders in the field. It offers events and seminars for professionals to grow and learn about current events in the field. I will always remain involved in WTS, and I look forward to the experiences and the professionals I will meet through my continued involvement.

WTS: Where do you see yourself going next?

A. Wall: I see myself growing and learning at Parsons Brinckerhoff in Washington, DC.  I hope to become an expert in our field in the area of transit policy and finance. And because of the profound impact WTS has had on me, I got involved in my local chapter. I am now serving in a role that is very close to my heart, as Scholarship Co-Chair for the WTS Washington DC Chapter. I will take over as a full chair next year once I learn the ropes from the outgoing chair. I’m excited to be able to give back to a program that has given me so much and even more excited that I may be able to make a difference in a young woman’s life, just as Jennifer and Beverly have done for me. This is what WTS is all about – advancing women in transportation.

 

WTS profiles a past WTS Foundation scholarship recipient several times each year. To submit a recommendation for a Where Are They Now profile, please email mpetto@wtsinternational.org.

 

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