Ani Sarkissian

Scholarship Status: Awarded 1st Place
Scholarship Awarded: Gary Gilbert Achievement Scholarship
University: University of California, Irvine
Date of Graduation: June 2019


Essay:

After taking the AP Environmental Science class in high school, I started to gain a deeper understanding of drought and environmental issues. Through this class, I was introduced to the magnitude and impact of the environmental problems, and was inspired to make a change. I decided to study civil engineering in UC Irvine (UCI), so I can address the challenges of resource sustainability. After learning about the degradation of our environment, I was deeply affected, and felt I had been called to action to make a difference. After taking my first introductory Civil Engineering class at UCI, I learned that civil engineering is one of the oldest professional engineering practices that deals with a broad field in planning, design, construction, and maintenance of physical and naturally built environments; such as buildings, roads, dams, pipes, canals and rivers; that directly serve communities. I immediately knew that civil engineering is what I am passionate about. I have always enjoyed community service and thrived in helping others by taking the lead in various organizations such as being a Girl Scout and participating in School Site Council in high school, and leading mentorship programs and sustainability activities at UCI. As soon as I got to UCI, I started going to ASCE meetings to meet a community that could support me and that I could learn from. I got involved with Concrete Canoe, and started developing friendships and a community that many other majors didn’t have. ASCE connected me with my peers, alumni, professionals, and the local community. This past year, I was the External Activities Chair, and enjoyed bringing volunteering opportunities to the club members to be able to outreach to the local community through volunteering events at local high schools and food pantries. I was and am involved with the Concrete Canoe Team and Environmental Competition Team for the Pacific Southwest Conference that was at UCI this past year. Being in the Environmental Competition, where we actually placed in 2nd place, reinforced my love for sustainability and finding solutions to water quality issues. Through ASCE, I’ve been able to gain leadership skills, work closely with other student leaders, as well as gain technical knowledge from these project teams. In my future, I would like to be involved with finding solutions to improving the quality of our water and replacing our aging infrastructure. Our water and air have become contaminated to varying degrees due to improper use of chemicals over the decades. Manmade pollution has severely impaired the availability of our valuable resources. There are major challenges to imported water due to environmental, competing demands and climate change. I look forward to finding effective solutions to maximize local water supply sources such as seawater, recycled water, storm water capture, conservation programs, and cleaning up groundwater contamination. I also look forward to finding real life solutions to poor air quality and reduce air pollution. With my engineering background, I’m determined to help society by taking an active role in building technology that will make desalination cheaper, creating methods to make water accessible to those in need, and researching methods to remove contamination. The World War II generation caused major environmental problems by contaminating our groundwater supply, which is still affecting us today. I would like to be a part of a generation that fixes old messes, and ensures that new problems do not develop. Furthermore, I have learned a great deal and built a deeper appreciation for civil engineering throughout my internships in performing concrete testing, parking design, and project management. The internships have introduced me to the real impact of the work civil engineers do every day, and I look forward to one day being a civil engineer, and finding effective solutions to pollution, to guarantee safe, reliable and sustainable resources for generations to come!

CEC

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