Griselda realized that Aggieland was the home for her while on a mission trip with a fellow Texas A&M University alumni. That leap of faith has blossomed in to Griselda being member of several student organization and currently serving as the ASABE Student Club President.
Interviewer: What drew you to Texas A&M University?
I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the STEM field, however I was open minded to any possibility. I applied and got admitted to nine universities across the state with majors ranging from Mathematics to Forensic Science and Engineering. What stood out the most to me about A&M was the core values, specifically selfless service, and the reputation of the Aggie Network. I had not visited campus and no one in my family had ever gone to A&M or knew anyone who did. My decision came after an unlikely encounter with an alumnus in Mexico who I was on a mission trip with for a local church. Call it a leap of faith or gut feeling, but after a single conversation I knew Aggieland was the place I had to be.
Interviewer: Why did you decide to study Biological and Agricultural Engineering? What interests you about BAEN?
I was a part of the first year of general engineering students. This meant that I had at least a semester to see what department fit my interests. Growing up, I always had a fascination with water. For a time we lived on a ranch in Central Mexico where our only water source was a river about half a mile away. Each morning, afternoon, and evening we would carry gallons and buckets of water for cooking, washing, and bathing. Even as a child I could see the value and necessity of our natural resources. I was considering an environmental track within civil engineering when I met a BAEN student who invited me to dinner and spoke to me about his major. He told me about his courses and getting to study hydrology and soil science. As I read about biological and agricultural engineering and what it offered, I felt as if I had finally found where I wanted to be and what fit my passion. I developed a strong curiosity and attended one of the informational meetings that semester. Needless to say, it was a perfect match.
Interviewer: What clubs are you a member of and why?
I have a passion to serve so for the past couple of years my main involvements have been with Women Helping Out Other People (WHOOP) and Alpha Phi Omega (APO). Although one is a women’s group and the other a co-ed fraternity, both groups thrive from volunteering and fellowship. I am very active in both organizations, and you will usually find me at one of their many daily events.
I was part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and Council for Minority Student Affairs (CMSA) during my earlier years but ultimately found a niche within the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and Texas A&M Water Network.
I was the former Event Coordinator and am now the President of ASABE. ASABE is the pre-professional club for our major and has provided me with the opportunities to be a part of the behind-the-scenes of most of the department’s events. I have greatly enjoyed working with my peers to provide our students with numerous industry presentations and giving the different class years a chance to meet and network.
I am also the Communications Chair for the Texas A&M Water Network, an organization established in the fall of 2017. The Water Network is a branch of the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association, a national nonprofit dedicated to all things relating to water. This group invites undergrads, grads, and professionals from the area to get together and talk about issues and education opportunities relating to water. It has been a very different yet rewarding experience working with people in all walks of life.
Interviewer: Have you been abroad? Tell me about your experience.
During the end of my first year at A&M, I was a student in the first cohort of ELCIR. We traveled to Yucatan, Mexico for two weeks where we toured pyramids, research parks, laboratories, and several universities. The goal of the program was to give us an introduction to research by pairing us with a professor from A&M and another from the local university. Each student was tasked with a different proposal and was given the chance to present to our Dean. I worked on underground water quality with a hydrologist and was able to collect samples while cave diving!
I have also traveled with my department to Guanajuato, Mexico as part of our annual Mexico Exchange program. During the week we were taken on several tours of the different schools within the university system, attractions like the statue of El Pipila, and a local Bimbo factory!
Interviewer: Have you done any internships? Tell me about your experience.
My first internship took place the summer after freshman year. I worked under the New Student and Family Programs at Texas A&M orientations as an interpreter and marketing / promotions agent. I was able to provide live interpretations of workshops such as the traditions breakdown by the Yell Leaders and the How-to-Register [for classes] presentations. I got to promote several student organizations to our incoming freshmen and their families as well as attend dinners and share my experiences as a first year student.
The summer after my sophomore year I completed a Water Quality Fellowship sponsored by Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M, and the USDA. The program taught basic principles about the movement of water, its physical and chemical properties, and the operations and logistics of Onsite Sewage Facilities. That same summer I interned with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency within the USDA that provides technical and financial assistance to our nation’s farmers and landowners. I spent a few months riding around on four wheelers and golf carts learning how to evaluate sites for erosion control, brush management, and performing surveys for terrace and pond installments.
I recently wrapped up my second summer with NRCS. Having a better understanding of my role as an engineer within the agency I was able to cooperate in projects ranging from wetland rehabilitation and dam inspections to giving workshops on pond maintenance and town hall meetings. During this last tour, the agency even took the interns on a week-long “Tour of Texas” where we got to visit numerous field offices, talk with landowners from South and East Texas, and experience the different land regions and resource areas. My favorite part about interning with NRCS was realizing that most of the engineers on staff were A&M graduates with a great amount of them being biological and agricultural engineers!
Interviewer: What do you want to do when you graduate? Why do you want to go that direction?
There is something special about the graduates of this department and that is their diversity in training. I have been exposed to a variety of fields from food to natural resources and alternative energy. Though I have begun interviewing for land development and water resource engineer in training (EIT) positions, nothing is set in stone. I have a desire to enlist in the Peace Corp, but I am considering every door BAEN has opened for me. Though I do not have a definite plan set, it is clear that wherever I end up is where I am needed and will provide the best aid.
Article by Jessica Schaeffer.
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