Jessica Lay Broken Arrow, Okla. / 26 Biosystems Engineering MS, 2012, BS, 2010 Oklahoma State University ASABE Student Member While finishing my master’s degree, I met a water quality division manager at the annual Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference and Research Symposium, where I gave a presentation on my research. The manager suggested that I pursue an internship in construction permitting while finishing my master’s program. (Professors always say that conferences are a great way to network and meet potential employers—and that’s exactly what happened for me!) The internship led to full-time employment in the public water supply section, where I performed water treatment plant inspections, provided technical assistance to operators, and so much more. It was exciting! However, my most rewarding experience thus far was a rainwater harvesting research and construction project in Sierra Leone with a Fulbright grant. I implemented my pilot-scale research results to a full-scale community project with many people involved in the process. When I returned a year later to check on the system, the local school teacher told me that the children no longer suffer from vomiting or diarrhea thanks to drinking harvested rainwater! I am currently working with colleagues to produce a technical manual for this system and will return to Sierra Leone, hopefully soon—my fifth trip! I have studied and traveled in Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, England, Ireland, Peru, and Bolivia, and I am eager to continue in international development to improve the lives of people who lack what we take for granted: clean, safe drinking water.
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