Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2019
Hilary Merline is using the knowledge and experience she’s gained as a student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering to set forth on a unique path.
Equipped with the technical understandings of engineering the built environment and their impact on natural surroundings, she plans to make a difference by incorporating two of academia’s oldest disciplines — civil engineering and writing.
“I think I always knew I needed to pursue my passion for preserving the environment to be happy,” she says. “I just didn’t realize, until recently, the way I wanted to do that was through writing.”
Merline served as a project manager for the American Society of Civil Engineers concrete canoe team and the co-fundraising chair for the 2018 ASCE Pacific Southwest Conference co-hosted by ASU.
“I ended up doing a lot of fundraising in both positions,” says Merline. “That along with planning and running events for PSWC and designing and implementing concrete mixes for concrete canoe.”
Merline says the most challenging part of her time in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering was dealing with anxiety and depression while trying to maintain her strong academic record and keep up with the extracurricular activities that meant a lot to her.
But by facing those hardships, she has found the most rewarding part of her undergraduate experience — finding her calling and learning to believe in herself.
Merline’s hard work has paid off. The New American University Scholar earned a four-year tuition scholarship and was also awarded the Northwestern Mutual Scholarship and a Sustainability Champions Scholarship through the ASU School of Sustainability.
She credits ASU President’s Professor Keith Hjelmstad and his influence with helping her find her path.
“Professor Hjelmstad showed me how to love learning without being so anxious all the time. His flipped classroom style favored hard work and engagement over just being able to get the right answers,” says Merline. “I feel like his teaching and his faith in me as a student is a lot of what led me to start writing because it helped me believe I am more capable than I thought I was.”
While Merline doesn’t have a set plan for the future just yet, she’s clear that she wants to find ways for humans to protect the environment and adapt to global warming on a community level. She plans to share how to safeguard the environment through one of society’s most powerful tools for creating change — storytelling.
“I hope to be writing about environmental issues through fiction like Carl Hiassen, except with more law-abiding characters, incorporating mythology and directed toward a teen and young adult audience,” Merline says.