LEED Scholars Program

LEED Scholars at LEED Meeting

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Meet Current LEED Scholars


Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why did you pick UW-Madison?

I was accepted to UW-Madison, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Stanford, Oxford and MIT. I chose UW-Madison for a number of reasons. First, I thought it offered the most academic and developmental opportunities, and that undergraduate research would be more accessible here. Additionally, during the summer before my junior year of high school, I did the Engineering Summer Program (ESP) and spent six weeks living in the dorms. Before ESP, I had always thought of Madison as too close to home, but I realized it was far enough from Milwaukee that I could be independent, and as cool and exciting a city as any faraway place. Additionally, my ESP counselors really made an impression on me. They were high-achieving students, but also very mature and confident. When I compared them to students at other schools I visited, I realized that when I left college, I’d most want to be like the students at UW-Madison. I visited some of the campuses, and of them, Madison is the only one that really felt like home. We have an amazing campus in an amazing city. Besides, where else could you get a lake view from your dorm room?

What extracurricular activities do you enjoy?

I recently started undergraduate research with Professor Tracey Holloway at SAGE (Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment). I’m learning to make charts of satellite data and learning a lot about atmospheric science so I can help with research.

I also joined the Robotics Team, where I will be helping with programming. I’m planning on joining Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. I’ve already done a bit of volunteering with them and I hope to do a lot of STEM outreach with them in the future.

What resources on campus have helped you transition into campus and academic life?

I’ve always struggled socially more than academically, so I expected the main challenge to college to be making friends. Welcome Week helped a lot in transitioning to college. Almost everyone on campus during the first week is new, and there are tons of events scheduled so you can meet new people. Because of this, I met my friend group within the first couple weeks on campus, and that helped the transition a lot. Now that I’m joining clubs, I’m meeting even more people, many of them in different years of school. Although it was the summer before my junior year of high school, ESP helped a lot academically in transitioning to college. Because of ESP, I knew exactly what to expect and how to handle a college-level course. I also had a lot of insight into the majors and possible paths through college, and a lot of advice from my counselors. Since a lot of my friends from ESP went to UW-Madison, I also have their friendship and advice.

Cassie Thomas

Hometown: De Pere, Wisconsin

What areas in your field are you most excited about?

I’m fascinated with body mechanics. I’ve been interested in biology since high school and enjoy learning things about the complicated system that we use every day for every movement and every thought.

How has the DAO helped you throughout your time in the College of Engineering?

The DAO helped me discover what I can do with my degree. The office encouraged me to volunteer, do the things I love, and provided me with more resources on how I can improve myself and find more people who I can relate to.

What advice would you give to a prospective engineering student or someone who is thinking about studying engineering?

I would definitely endorse the Engineering Summer Program. I did not know what I was going to major in when I started thinking about college. I signed up for ESP during my sophomore year of high school, and I was exposed to everything in engineering and interacted with many different people. I fell in love with the design process and here I am today. If you are thinking of studying engineering, expose yourself to all of the aspects of engineering. There are so many fields in engineering to choose from. Get involved in science and math clubs or start your own. Apply to engineering programs—as many as you can. If you want to know what engineering is about, you need to experience it first-hand.


Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Where are you from and why did you pick UW-Madison?

I am from Los Angeles, California. I chose UW-Madison for two reasons. One, I wanted to get away from LA and experience a different culture. Madison is very different from my hometown. I went to a high school that was about 98 percent Latino, and coming to Madison where I am one of the few Latinos in a big lecture hall was challenging, but it was the challenge I wanted. Secondly, I was awarded a leadership scholarship through the POSSE Foundation. The POSSE Foundation has given me the support system I needed to thrive on a campus that was so completely different from what I was used to.

How has your personal experience influenced your engineering education?

Through my personal experience I have discovered what my true passion is and how I can use engineering to fulfill that passion. Early on in my college career, I got involved with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and I was able to see the power of engineering affect people’s lives across the world. I traveled to El Salvador two times and installed a grey water pipeline system to help reduce the rate of diarrhea infection among children. I was able to see how the skills of project management within civil engineering were directly correlated to community development. I am focusing my engineering education on tailoring my skills toward community development in an engineering sense. I want to become a project manager for major projects back home in LA as well as volunteer my time to do community development work around the world because through engineering we can improve people’s standards of living quite instantly.

What are your ultimate career goals?

My ultimate career goals are to attain my professional engineer license and start my own nonprofit organization tailored toward providing engineering projects to communities in Latin America, in partnership with local engineers and local students. EWB has impacted me so strongly that if I can do the type of work we are doing as college students as a full-time job, I would take it in a heartbeat.

Jessica Rubio

Hometown: Oak Lawn, Illinois

What are you involved in outside of classes?

I am a part of the National Society of Black Engineers, where I was the former Vice President, and the Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers, Women in Nuclear, and also a sorority focused on engineering and technical science called Alpha Omega Epsilon. I have interned at TRANE, a heating and cooling company, and have also gained research experience in the Geological Engineering Program, physics department, and currently in nuclear engineering. I have also been a summer camp counselor for the Engineering Summer Program and Camp Badger. Additionally, I am a resident assistant at the Regent Apartments, where I mentor and plan educational and community events for residents. Also, throughout my years at UW-Madison, I have been a Chancellor’s and Powers-Knapp Scholar, a LEED Scholar, and a former WiscAMP participant.

How has your research experience impacted your education?

My research experience has impacted my education by giving me new perspectives in my STEM career, and has also helped me gain confidence in my abilities as a researcher. Being a research assistant in nuclear engineering helped solidify my career and inspired me to eventually give back and inspire others to be in the STEM fields. Through my research, I learned how to machine mechanical parts and analyze different materials, and I got to know the professors in my field. Research experience is a big part of my college experience because it has given me the confidence, knowledge and validation that I made the correct choice in majoring in nuclear engineering.

What would you like to do when you graduate?

I hope to pursue a graduate school degree in nuclear engineering at UW-Madison. Eventually, I would like to use my STEM degree as a platform to become the dean of the college of engineering at a university.