Scholarships, advisors, aid in success of URI graduates pursuit of Civil Engineering Ph.D

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KINGSTON, R.I. — November 22, 2016 — When Bivian Reyes Mejia was a young girl in the Dominican Republic, her father took her to an art exhibit where she saw the work of sculptor and engineer Santiago Calatrava and immediately felt inspired.

Today, she is pursuing her doctorate in civil engineering at the University of Rhode Island with the help of two scholarships. Aaron Bradshaw, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at URI, came across an opportunity for a student to receive a competitive engineering scholarship. “She was the first student I thought of. The organizations that were offering scholarships focused on deep foundations, which is what her current research is based on.” Deep foundations provide support for large structures that are placed on unstable soil.

Bradshaw has advised Reyes for three years and has also taught several of her classes. At first, Reyes was not sure if she was eligible since she is on a student visa. Soon after affirming her eligibility, she sent in her recommendations, transcript, and essays and was soon awarded $3,000 from The International Association of Foundation Drilling and $2,000 from the Deep Foundations Institute.

“I’ve always been an advocate for the success of women engineers,” says Reyes. “Not only did these scholarships help fund my doctorate, they also helped support my personal journey.” Now, Reyes is interviewing with large corporations in different cities and is continuing her pursuit of becoming a professional civil engineer. Reyes explains that being a Hispanic female in the engineering field comes with obstacles.

“I want to be an example for girls who want to succeed in this field. If they don’t have the funds themselves, there are so many resources that provide support, even if you are an international student.” says Reyes.

Josh Reyes, an intern at URI Department of Marketing and Communications and a Public Relations major, wrote this release.