My name is Leah Rivera and I’m a 4th year environmental engineering student with a focus in air quality. I’m from Firestone, CO and I began with the EVEN program in 2016.
I chose my major because I knew that the technical skills that I would gain would allow me to impact the environment and the communities with which they are connected. CU is a leader in environmental sustainability and so is the Boulder community, so I knew that my values would be welcomed and supported here.
The thing I like most about the EVEN program is the sense of community and connection. It’s easy to build friendships with fellow EVEN students, and the EVEN professors end up knowing you on a personal level which is cool.
I am currently the co-president of the Society of Environmental Engineers (SEVEN).
I also participate in other student societies such as SHPE/MAES. I am also a GoldShirt Scholar, so I spend a lot of time in the BOLD Center with my peers. I currently work on campus as a GoldShirt Student Assistant helping with program events and with other GoldShirt Scholars.
What’s next is grad school!
What research are you working on and/or did you work on in the past? What have you learned from this opportunity?
Currently, I am working in Dr. Rosario-Ortiz’s lab on a water quality assessment project. The research team is simulating a run-off event to see how forest fires alter the quality of water.
In the past I have participated in:
- Spring Break for Research – using biochar to purify water
- YOU’RE@CU – examining the flow of microfluid through a porous membrane
- Undergraduate Research – worked with Dr. Shelly Miller on air quality impacts in Denver
- Volunteer Undergraduate Research – worked in Dr. Shelly Miller’s lab to study radon and indoor air quality
From this experience, I learned what specific topics I like in environmental engineering and I learned of my passion for research which I’m hoping to continue in grad school.
What has been your favorite part about being a member of SEVEN? What have you learned about Environmental Engineering through SEVEN?
Favorite part of being in SEVEN is the ability to connect with students and building community. Through SEVEN, I have been able to look at environmental engineering through the eyes of industry. It’s a perspective I wasn’t expecting as a freshman because I thought environmental engineers always worked in labs, but I learned that you could do many things with an EVEN degree.
How has being a GoldShirt mentor shaped your experience at CU Boulder?
Being in GoldShirt surrounded me with support. I’ve built meaningful friendships and created lasting memories. This program has instilled a sense of service in me – I always want to give back to the program that gave so much to me.
What has your experience in the CU EVEN program been like?
The EVEN program has been so open and welcoming. I really feel like I belong here! Those positive feelings help bring me to success. In my time here, I have felt deeply cared for by professors, students, and my advisor.
What advice do you have for students applying to the EVEN program?
For those who are joining the EVEN program, I would say find your passion. Knowing what you value will guide you through college and life in general. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, then go out and get involved. You’ll have many opportunities on campus to discover what you love. Even if you end up not liking something you tried, you’re still one step closer to finding what you do like!
April 7th, 2020