Why CU Boulder?
I grew up in a small town in the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India. In many cases, where you grow up can define you but, in my case, I simply did not fit in the culture back home. I was an average student in middle and high school and usually kept to myself. As I grew up, I wanted to step out for my college experience to travel, meet new people, and explore new destinations. My mother who has always been my anchor was instrumental in making my journey to CU happen.
I was hopelessly confused on what program to pursue in higher education. Being average in most things – how do you make such life-altering decision? I ultimately decided to pursue an engineering program. The University of Colorado Boulder was the first college to respond back and rest is history.
Here in Boulder, for the first time I was living alone and was in a culture that could not be more different than where I came from. Literally, I came from a desert to the Rockies! I grew to enjoy every part of Boulder’s mountain life: the Flatirons, the creek, the food, the people, and most of all the campus.
My Path in Engineering
It wasn’t all smooth: I was struggling academically at the end of my sophomore year. After some thought, I decided to switch from environmental to civil engineering. I didn’t have a concrete reason to switch to civil engineering (pun intended) but what I didn’t know was that the switch to civil engineering would help me find my footing in the world of engineering and change everything. That switch took me from a near probation GPA to eventually being on the Dean’s merit list. That switch meant meeting Dr. Matthew R. Hallowell, becoming his undergraduate research assistant and eventually one of his PhD students working to improve safety on construction sites. That switch meant going from not wanting to be an engineer to now a graduate student hoping to permanently join the research and teaching community in engineering. That switch was everything.
For my PhD thesis I designed the safety training program that improves skill, knowledge retention, and interest for safety among workers, while also manipulating their emotional response to risks, thereby altering their risk-taking behaviors. Currently, I have had the opportunity to branch out from my core dissertation work by using a new dataset collected via partnerships with industry associations. The dataset allows for the exploration of interactions among safety climate, risk tolerance, safety behavior, and international demographics using survey responses from over 10,000 construction workers across 22 countries. This is a rare opportunity to disseminate through such a rich dataset as this and conduct multivariate studies to explore relationships among key safety variables on a global scale.
I became a part of the CU family in undergrad and my love for the community, teaching environment, and the campus has just grown over the years, making graduate school here an easy decision. That coupled with the fact I get to continue living in Boulder made it perfect deal. Despite its size, CU always made me feel relevant whether it was being able to interact with all my professors or having a plethora of part time job opportunities on campus. When making a decision to join graduate school, I didn’t know what role the college would play in supporting me but CU gave me the opportunity to work with brilliant and pioneering researchers from across the world, travel to conferences, and get a stage to share the work our team has been doing. I would recommend CU to anyone without a second’s hesitation.