WTS International Announces 2013 Scholarship Winners

April 3, 2013
WTS International has announced the selection of the winners of its seven scholarships for 2013

WTS International has announced the selection of the winners of its seven scholarships for 2013. Each of the winners will be recognized at an awards banquet on May 16 during the 2013 WTS Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The scholarship winners are:

• Margaret-Avis Akofio-Sowah, Georgia – CH2M HILL Partnership Scholarship
• Crista Gardner, Oregon – Leadership Legacy Scholarship
• Amy Cavaretta, Florida – Helene Overly Graduate Scholarship
• Naima Rivas, Texas – Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship
• Stacia Slowey, Wyoming – Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates
• Vinh Kha, California – WTS Junior College Scholarship
• Joyrie Dickerson, New Jersey – WTS Transportation YOU High School Scholarship

“WTS is thrilled with our seven national scholarship winners. Each of these young women—as well as the hundreds who have won scholarships awarded by their local WTS chapters and the hundreds more who applied—exhibit incredible dedication to preparing themselves to enter the transportation industry. With students like these focused on the disciplines required to bring the world’s infrastructure to the next level of efficiency and reliability in a sustainable and accessible way, we are all in good hands. WTS Foundation was established to foster the development of the world’s workforce, and our scholarship program has been extremely successful, as evidenced by the paths of our past scholarship winners,” said Marcia Ferranto, WTS president and CEO.

Margaret-Avis Akofio-Sowah, winner of the CH2M HILL Partnership Scholarship, attends the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta and will graduate in May 2015 with a Ph.D in transportation systems. Her career goal is to impact the lives of residents of developing countries through improvements in their transportation systems. Her determination to make a difference in the field of transportation engineering comes from her firsthand experience with the detrimental effects of the lack of an adequate transportation system on the socio-economic lives of Ghanaians. Margaret-Avis also has a secondary career goal to actively encourage female participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. She is considering a position in academia at an institution for higher education in a developing country where the need for female engineering professors and role models is great.

Crista Gardner, winner of the Leadership Legacy Scholarship, is a senior transportation planner for Portland’s Metro and concentrates on transit, active transportation, station area and land use planning, public involvement and project management. Crista also gained experience in community development when she was a municipal development volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps in Guatemala. She also served as a regional policy advisor, an urban and rural planning office consultant, and a community development workshop lead there. In this role Crista led the elections and training of town councils in 25 rural villages, educated county and town councils on community assessment, censuses, project planning, and grant applications, and wrote the first rural town council and mayoral training manual for 100 municipal governments to use. Crista has her Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, with a major in urban studies and geography. Crista received the WTS scholarship to complete her executive master’s in public administration at Portland State University with a focus on leadership, international affairs, urban planning, and local government.

Amy Cavaretta, winner of the Helene Overly Graduate Scholarship, will receive her Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning in May from the University of Florida As an exercise in international development and transportation planning, her master’s thesis examines the viability of transportation development, specifically public transportation, to reduce urban poverty through increased accessibility in the case of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Her thesis provides transportation recommendations for incorporation into the Kenya Slum Upgrading Program, a partnership between the government of Kenya and the United Nations to provide improved housing and facilities to the slums of Nairobi. After graduation, Amy plans to return to Washington, D.C., to begin a career in federal transportation and infrastructure policy.

Naima Rivas, winner of the Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship, is currently concentrating on electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington, and will receive her B.S. in the spring of 2015. Naima wants to become an electrical engineer so that she can work on the electrical systems in vehicles that will revolutionize the transportation industry. She envisions a future with autonomous electric cars, smart highways, autonomous mass transit systems, infallible air traffic control systems, renewable energy fueling stations, and a national sensor network that will eliminate traffic congestion and traffic accidents altogether. She recently published an article on the topic, “Traffic Surveillance Sensors for Congestion Mitigation,” with Dr. Sia Ardekani.

Stacia Slowey, winner of the Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates, is majoring in civil engineering with a dual major in environment and natural resources at the University of Wyoming while she works for the Wyoming Department of Transportation as a design technician in the Laramie design squad. In the future, Stacia wants to be involved in diverse transportation related projects ranging from innovative intersection and interchange design, ITS projects, and bicycle related projects.

Vinh Kha, winner of the WTS Junior College Scholarship, came to the US from 8,000 miles away where she worked as a tour guide in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, only seven years ago. With no knowledge of the English language, she has managed to set herself on a successful career path at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and taking a nearly full-time course load at junior college. She is majoring in civil engineering with a focus in water resource and environmental studies. Her goal is to help people live comfortably in harmony with other species in the ecosystem. Vinh would also like to join the Engineers without Borders Organization.

Joyrie Dickerson, winner of the WTS Transportation YOU High School Scholarship, attends Pennsauken High School in Pennsauken, NJ, with a concentration on the subject of chemical engineering. With a GPA of 4.0, Joyrie is also president of the school’s student government, she’s a member of the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society (and publicity director), French club, varsity club, renaissance club, leo club, green indian club, engineering club, digital imaging club, and chemistry club. When she attends college, Joyrie looks forward to learning how to make transportation eco-friendly by creating fuel from plant matter called biomass, available from agricultural waste, which will provide fuel needed for transportation that creates less pollution in the air.

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