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Scholarship Winners 2013

2013 CH2M HILL Partnership Scholarship

Margaret-Avis Akofio-Sowah, WTS Georgia Tech Student Chapter

Margaret_AvisMargaret-Avis Akofio-Sowah developed an interest in engineering during her high school experience in Accra, Ghana, where she found herself one of the few females in science and math courses. She became determined to challenge stereotypes and pursue her interests. Her determination to make a difference in the field of transportation engineering comes from her firsthand experience with the detrimental effects of the lack of an adequate transportation system on the socio-economic lives of Ghanaians. Her career goal is to impact the lives of citizens and residents of developing countries through improvements in their transportation systems.

Margaret-Avis also has a secondary career goal to actively encourage female participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. She is considering a position in academia at an institution for higher education in a developing country where the need for female engineering professors and role models is great.

Margaret-Avis attends the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta and will graduate in May 2015 with a Ph.D in Transportation Systems. She received her BS in Engineering from Smith College in 2010 and her Masters of Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2011.  She is the president of the WTS Georgia Tech Student Chapter, a member of the Georgia Tech ITE chapter, the Society of Women Engineers (scholarship winner), the Black Graduate Students Association, National Society of Black Engineers, and the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society. Margaret was also a 2012 Executive Fellow with IRF, the International Road Federation.

Leadership Legacy Scholarship

Crista Gardner, WTS Portland Chapter

CristaGardner-Legacy_(2)Crista Gardner has received a letter of recommendation from Lynn Peterson, currently Washington’s Secretary of Transportation. Ms. Peterson writes, “Crista demonstrates her intelligence, creativity, and strong desire to learn. She applies her talents to the benefit of Metro (Oregon) and the public we serve.” In fact, Crista has demonstrated that desire in professional experiences that include urban planning, community development, and teaching. 

In the Portland region, Crista is Senior Transportation Planner for Metro and concentrates on transit, active transportation, station area and land use planning, public involvement and project management. Crista has also served as a planner for Otak, the City of Portland, Fregonese Associates, and TriMet.

Crista’s community development experience as a municipal development volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps in Guatemala was a rich one. While in Guatemala, she also served as a regional policy advisor, an urban and rural planning office consultant, and a community development workshop lead. In this role she led the elections and training of town councils in 25 rural villages, educated county and town councils on community assessment, censuses, project planning, and grant applications, and wrote the first rural town council and mayoral training manual for 100 municipal governments to use. As an environmental planning advisor in Guatemala, she secured drinking and irrigation water for 32,000 residents and protected the largest designated natural area in Guatemala.

 Crista has her Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, with a major in urban studies and geography.  Crista received the WTS scholarship to complete her Executive Master’s in Public Administration at Portland State University with a focus on leadership, international affairs, urban planning, and local government.

Helene Overly Graduate Scholarship

Amy Cavaretta, WTS University of Florida Student Chapter

Amy_Cavaretta_(2)Amy Cavaretta will receive her Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning this May, 2013, from the University of Florida. She received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 2011 from UF as well. She hopes to combine her skills and passion for transportation and infrastructure engineering, planning, and policy to benefit those living in underdeveloped and impoverished areas of the United States and the world.

As an exercise in international development and transportation planning, her master’s thesis examines the viability of transportation development, specifically public transportation, to reduce urban poverty through increased accessibility in the case of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Her thesis provides transportation recommendations for incorporation into the Kenya Slum Upgrading Program, a partnership between the Government of Kenya and the United Nations to provide improved housing and facilities to the slums of Nairobi.  

Amy’s employment history is already rich in experiences. For the past two years, she’s been a research assistant at the University of Florida Center for Health and Built Environment. She has gained significant experience through summer internships during each of the last three summers - as a planning intern for the City of Casselberry, Florida, Planning and Zoning Department, as a transportation engineering and planning intern for Kittelson & Associates in Portland, Oregon, and as a transportation policy and finance intern for the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, D.C..

After graduation, Amy plans to return to Washington, D.C., to begin a career in federal transportation and infrastructure policy.


Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship

Naima Rivas, WTS Dallas Fort Worth Chapter

NaimaNaima Rivas is currently concentrating on electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington, and will receive her BS in the spring of 2015. She’s very involved with the UTA Racing Team, where she is currently Team Captain of the electric car project for the 2014 Formula SAE Competition. She is also an officer in her IEEE chapter, and she participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at UTA last summer 2012, publishing an article titled, “Traffic Surveillance Sensors for Congestion Mitigation,” with Dr. Sia Ardekani. 

Naima wants to become an electrical engineer so that she can work on the electrical systems in vehicles that will revolutionize the transportation industry. She envisions a future with autonomous electric cars, smart highways, autonomous mass transit systems, infallible air traffic control systems, renewable energy fueling stations, and a national sensor network that will eliminate traffic congestion and traffic accidents altogether.  Her work with Dr. Ardekani on the article she published illustrated that progress is slowly being made toward this reality.  However, she feels that significant progress stands to be made by the engineers of her generation.

As she will be the first in her family to graduate college, she’s looking forward to blazing a trail for her family personally and for women everywhere who want to pursue engineering and are interested in the transportation industry.


Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates

Stacia Slowey, WTS Colorado Chapter

Slowey_head_shot_(2)Stacia Slowey is majoring in Civil Engineering with a dual major in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming while she works for the Wyoming Department of Transportation as a design technician in the Laramie Design Squad.  Her additional employment experience includes working for the Western Research Institute, also as a lab technician, serving as a teaching assistant for the University of Wyoming’s Intro to Engineering Course, and as a crew member for Wyoming Conservation Corps., a role in which she traveled across Wyoming performing public land management services for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Wyoming State Parks.

 Stacia currently serves as the treasurer of UW’s Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).  She is also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and a past president of UW’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

 In the future, Stacia wants to be involved in diverse transportation related projects ranging from innovative intersection and interchange design, ITS projects, and bicycle related projects.


WTS Junior College Scholarship

Vinh Kha, WTS Sacramento Chapter

VinghVinh Kha came to the US from 8,000 miles away where she worked as a tour guide in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, only seven years ago. With no knowledge of the English language, she has managed to set herself on a successful career path at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) while caring for her elderly parents, giving birth to two children, and taking a nearly full-time course load at junior college with great success.

Vinh is majoring in Civil Engineering with a focus in water resource and environmental studies.Thanks to her previous job at the California Environmental Protection Agency and current role at the California DOT (Caltrans) she found the perfect career path. Vinh will focus on green engineering so she can build intermodal structures that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Her goal: to help people live comfortably in harmony with other species in the ecosystem. Vinh would also like to join the Engineers Without Borders Organization.


Atkins Transportation YOU High School Scholarship

Joyrie Dickerson, WTS Philadelphia Chapter

JoyieRecognizing that there are very few women and minorities in chemical engineering, Joyrie Dickerson’s career goal is to become one of the best African American women in the field to modernize transportation in a more eco-friendly environment. In addition to taking the appropriate honors classes at school, to prepare for such a demanding yet rewarding career she joined the school’s Green Indian Club, an environmental club that focuses on ways to make the world—including all modes of transportation—more eco-friendly.

Joyrie attends Pennsauken High School in Pennsauken, NJ, with a concentration on the subject of chemical engineering. With a GPA of 4.0, Joyrie is also president of the school’s student government, she’s a member of the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society (and Publicity Director), French Club, Varsity Club, Renaissance Club, Leo Club, Green Indian Club, Engineering Club, Digital Imaging Club, and Chemistry Club. Joyrie’s athletic life includes varsity cheerleading and varsity track and field.

Joyrie has received a plethora of awards, including Student of the Month, Athlete of the Week, Spirit Award, Honor Roll, Mathematician of the Month, and Language Art Student of the Month. Her community activities include PYAA Cheerleading coach, Learn to Swim instructor, and she’s been a volunteer for Clean- Up Philadelphia Day, Teachers’ Literature Convention, and the Puerto Rican Parade.

When she attends college, Joyrie looks forward to learning how to make transportation eco-friendly by creating fuel from plant matter called biomass, available from agricultural waste, which will provide fuel needed for transportation that creates less pollution in the air.


2012 Scholarship Winners

2012 CH2M HILL Strategic Partner Scholarship

Cortney Mild, Portland Chapter

Cortey_Mild_headshotCortney Mild is in her final term of the Master of Community and Regional Planning program at the University of Oregon. Cortney is passionate about retrofitting US cities to create well-balanced, multi-modal transportation systems. Last summer Cortney interned with the Dutch transportation consulting firm Goudappel Coffeng. This year she has been honored as the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium student of the year, an Eno fellow, and recipient of the Portland WTS Chapter's President's Legacy Leadership scholarship. In her former life, Cortney was a professional ballet dancer.



The Leadership Legacy Scholarship

Jamie Fischer, Atlanta Chapter

Jamie_at_SuesJamie Montague Fischer is native to Atlanta, where she hopes to stay and contribute to an improving transportation system for years to come.  She is passionate about infrastructure, education, communications and social justice, all of which is reflected in her work and volunteer activities. She holds Bachelor's degrees in English (Agnes Scott College) and Civil Engineering (Georgia Tech) as well as a Master's in Transportation Engineering from Georgia Tech. Her PhD research focuses on incorporating human and quality-of-life-oriented concerns into infrastructure management, in general, and transportation decision making, in particular. Jamie is active in WTS and the Institute of Transportation Engineers at Georgia Tech. In the past, she has served as the Chairperson of the Bahá'í Club and newsletter editor for Engineers Without Borders at Georgia Tech, and as President of the Poetry Etc. Club at Agnes Scott College. In the wider community, Jamie volunteers for programs for children and youth devoted to character building, literacy, a sense of world citizenship, and humanitarian service.


Helene H. Overly Graduate Memorial Scholarship

 Kara Luckey, Colorado Chapter

scholarship_-_Kara_LKara Luckey is currently a PhD student in the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado, where her work is focused on transportation planning and policy, with a focus on social equity issues. She is particularly interested in the relationship between transportation infrastructure and community development and is currently engaged in research related to transportation and housing equity and public transit’s role as an economic development tool. Kara holds a B.S.E. in Civil Engineering and has over seven years of experience as a transportation and transit planner. She has been active in WTS Colorado for many years, serving on the Professional Development Committee and coordinating the scholarship and professional mentoring programs.


Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship

 Amanda Wall, Atlanta Chapter

Amanda_WallAmanda Wall graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.  She was the first to graduate from college in her family of nine.  During her time as an undergrad, Amanda maintained a 4.0 GPA.  In 2011, Amanda was awarded the Georgia Tech Joe S. Mundy Global Learning Experience Travel Award to travel to the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium to study the cultural and economic sustainability of the respective transportation systems.  She is currently working as an intern under Dr. Scott at MARTA in Atlanta, where she is gaining valuable experience in the public sector.  Amanda plans to study transportation systems and policy while working on her Masters at Georgia Tech.  She was awarded a full Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship to support her graduate studies and research surrounding the Georgia Transportation Investment Act of 2010.  Through her graduate studies, she hopes to make an impact on communities across the nation with the results of her research on the TIA 2010 legislation.  After graduation in May 2013, Amanda plans to begin a career in the public sector of Atlanta’s transportation industry.  With her background in policy and transit, she hopes to work toward solving many of Georgia’s transportation issues.


Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates

Jannet Loera-Gutierrez, Inland Empire

Jannet_2Jannet is pursuing a Civil Engineering degree with a concentration in Transportation Engineering.  She maintains a GPA of 3.71 and plans to obtain a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering with emphasis on Transportation Issues. Jannet presented her investigation on the relationship between speed limits and road safety at the Southern California Conference of Undergraduate Research. She was invited to join Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon (Engineering & Civil Engineering Honor Societies) and is a member of ASCE, ITE, and the Concrete Canoe Team, as well as WTS Inland Empire and Orange County Chapters. Jannet interns at the County of Riverside Transportation Department where she has worked on various engineering projects completing field reviews, cost estimates, hydrology studies, and street designs. After graduation, she plans to obtain the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) and Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) exams and become a Registered Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor. One of her career goals is to be involved in the High Speed Rail project to help fix the existing transportation infrastructure.




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