Hajim Spotlights

Haley Wohlever

Class year: 2019
Major: Mechanical engineering
Challenge: Provide Access to Clean Water
(Click here to see the poster about her GCS experience that she presented at the Undergraduate Research Expo.)

How did you hear about the Grand Challenges Program?

My friend Emma Luke was participating in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program and encouraged me to participate as well. I attended an information session on the program and submitted my application shortly after.

Why did you decide to apply for the Grand Challenges program?

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program gave context and meaning to many of the engineering concepts I had learned through my coursework. All of the challenges outlined by the NAE are important issues and I was excited for the opportunity to begin involving myself in them early on in my undergraduate career.

Which of the five “competencies” (research, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurship/innovation, global, service) did you most enjoy completing? Why?

I most enjoyed completing the service competency for my Grand Challenges Scholars Program. I volunteered on two service trips to the Dominican Republic with my University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders. While there, I stayed with a host mom in a small community and spent the days working on a water filtration and distribution system for a local primary school. Interacting with community members and being able to see first-hand the impact it is possible to have was an incredible experience.

Do you think you will want to continue work in the field of your “challenge” after graduation? How?

Participating in the Grand Challenge Scholars Program has greatly shaped my post-graduation plans. Through the program, I have connected with many impressive individuals and organizations working towards the common goal of bettering the lives of people around the world – many through the same challenge I worked on, access to clean water. It has encouraged me to apply for graduate programs that will afford me the opportunity to research new, interdisciplinary methods for water filtration and access in developing countries.

How did being at the University of Rochester help you to complete this program?

The University of Rochester was extremely supportive in my efforts to complete my Grand Challenges Scholars Program requirements. The program hosted many events to help us connect to other students both at U of R and other schools, as well as many community leaders in the area who have dedicated their lives to these challenges.

For you, what is the value of the Grand Challenges program?

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program helped me better understand the multidisciplinary aspects of these large-scale challenges and showed me how I can contribute, even this early in my career, to solving these issues.