In the fall I will be returning to North Carolina to finish my final year of undergraduate studies at Duke University. I am majoring in civil engineering with a focus on water resources, as well as obtaining a dance studies minor. All of the opportunities that have been afforded to me so far in undergrad have in some way been related to water. At first, this was just by happenstance, but after a while, water became a topic that I actively sought to understand from both the technical engineering and social impact side. I can now firmly state that my passion lies in the nexus of energy, water, and sustainability.

During my freshman year, I was granted the opportunity to complete comparative research between drinking and surface water quality, which was detailed in a scientific poster and report presented at the Duke Kunshan University symposium in Shanghai, China.

In my sophomore year, I worked closely with community leaders in rural Kenya, and an engineering firm MUCOWASH (Muhuru Bay Community water board), to improve access to clean water, and to construct a solar-powered intake valve for Lake Victoria. The valve connected to a series of underground gravity pipes to effectively deliver polluted water from the downstream lake to a water treatment tower, and then to the rest of the village along the main road. I enjoyed not only helping with laying out the piping network, but also guiding conversations related to water access in the community, which revealed strong tendencies towards choosing contaminated water options due to the lower price. Currently, I am developing a portfolio in conjunction with a thesis that focuses on providing access to clean water, which has been named one of the 14 “Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st century.”

As the youngest member of the Blue Access team, I am thrilled to work with individuals who have been working on water resource issues for longer than I have, while sharing some of my own skills with them. As an engineering major, my perspective of water has been centrally focused on consumption and quality assurance rather than water security issues tied to infrastructure and capital. I look forward to learning more about these issues, as well as the social impact and sustainable financing of water, which is at the core of Blue Access’s mission. 

Image: Testing surface water microbial E.Coli to assess coliforms developed in bodies of water surrounding Duke Kunshan University in China