Engineering Student Wins Transportation Industry Scholarship
Linda Abernathy, a civil engineering student at Angelo State University, has been awarded this year’s $5,000 Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates from the Heart of Texas Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), an international organization dedicated to advancing women in transportation careers.
Let’s learn a little more about Linda:
Full Name: Linda Marie Abernathy
School: Angelo State University
Major: Civil Engineering
Estimated Graduation Date: December 2021
Have you ever been involved with ASCE at any level (Student Chapter, Local Branch, Section, or Global Society)?
The first year attending Angelo State University (ASU) I got involved with our student chapter (RAMgineers) by becoming a member and attending all the events. Over the next three years, I took on different roles, such as the secretary and executive officer, leading up to being President this past year. ASU provided me the opportunity to attend a Multi Region Leadership Conference located in Detroit, Michigan where I was the only student representing the university. This event opened my eyes to the ASCE world and allowed me to network with others from Regions 3, 6 and 7. I was able to see all that ASCE had to offer for me as a civil engineering student to expand my knowledge. From that conference I met many students who I continued to communicate with and competed against at the Texas-Mexico Symposium. The students and professionals I networked with are now Linked In connections and social media friends I keep in touch with. I am able to connect with these friends who are also completing their engineering degrees or ask graduates and professionals for advice about my own career in the future.
Tell us about any current projects or plans you are working on (for school or job/internship)
I am currently conducting an ASU undergraduate research project titled, “Transportation Needs Assessment for the City of San Angelo and the Concho Valley Transit District”.
The main goal of this project is to update the Concho Valley Regional Coordination Transportation Plan. We are targeting different people in the community to take our surveys to find out the issues they face every day. We have surveyed the bus drivers in an effort to understand their point of view. We are sending out a city-wide survey with hopes of it reaching most of San Angelo to determine the areas in town where changes are needed.
The most interesting part of my research so far was having the opportunity to ride the transit buses for a few weeks. My research partner and I were shocked at how much feedback we received from the passengers and appreciated the amount of support we have from our community. I plan to give my all during this research project and believe this opportunity will impact my engineering career in the future because it is teaching me to take into consideration how public transportation changes made in a specific area affect everyone. By conducting this research, I hope to make changes that will improve the infrastructure of our city.
Describe the moment you knew you wanted to be an engineer?
I knew at a young age that I wanted to be an engineer. My parents are employees of the California Department of Transportation. When I was in elementary school my mother was an office manager for engineers. When I would go to work with her during my vacations, I was amazed by the freeway construction plans hung on the walls. I remember looking up to these engineers as they went to visit work sites to see the status of projects. Those engineers were friends that encouraged me and pushed me to work as hard as I could each school year. They became family and I knew that I wanted to follow in their footsteps to help my community. I saw their dedication to projects and how much they enjoyed their job. There was one project my mother’s office worked on known as the Interstate 905 freeway. This project stood out to me and every time I drove on it I was shocked to see it completed in an area where there was nothing previously constructed. From that moment on, I questioned how every building or road was built and was eager to learn.
Everyone has 15 seconds of fame (at least), where have you “spent” or “earned” yours?
On Halloween night in 2020, I was standing on the ASU football field in front of the entire university when they announced that I was voted ASU’s 2020 Homecoming Queen. Over a few weeks of what was the craziest semester, given the global pandemic, the RAMgineers nominated me for my involvement with various organizations on campus. It was the first year the RAMgineers had ever nominated anyone as a part of the homecoming festivities. I faced 20 nominees in two rounds of voting. The first round was to select the top five nominees that made up the Homecoming Court. I never actually thought I would make it. Then, during the week of homecoming, there were many festivities to attend while having to balance engineering classes. The week concluded with very little sleep, a snow day, and dress shopping, all before the homecoming parade and award ceremony. In leu of the homecoming football game, the university hosted an outdoor homecoming concert due to the pandemic. A live band performed and then they announced I had won. Fireworks followed and my friends and family congratulated me for my accomplishment.
What is your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It is a time where I plan to spend all day with my family and stuff my face full of delicious food. I get extremely excited knowing it is one day to relax and enjoy a peaceful day in the fall.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy volunteering and giving back to my community. I am currently serving as assistant coach to a high school basketball team. Since I grew up playing sports and had many different coaches pour all their time into shaping me as an athlete, I decided I wanted to do the same. So, when the opportunity to help coach this new team came about I took it. I hope to give back to the young ladies in my community and share with them all of the life lessons and advice that I have been taught.
Mountains or Beach?
Both! As long as I have family and friends to spend time with I enjoy the mountains and beach.
We look forward to seeing what you achieve in your engineering career and leadership roles ahead.