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Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2018

Ioana Raluca Mihalcescu

Arizona State University graduate Ioana Raluca Mihalcescu was initially drawn to engineering because of her father, who is a petroleum engineer. She also appreciated the field’s diversity and its potential to directly impact communities.

She decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in environmental resource management from ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She believed the program would give her expertise on a wide range of topics and open doors to various career opportunities.

“I liked this degree because it combines my love for the environment and my concern for the future with classes in math, science and law,” says Mihalcescu. “The curriculum gave me insight on current environmental issues so I could evaluate my place in the complex puzzle of trying to mitigate the negative impacts that may be coming our way in the next few decades.”

Along her academic journey, Mihalcescu had many professors challenge, mentor and support her.

Associate Professor Larry Olson, the program chair of environmental resource management, created classes with concepts beyond what Mihalcescu could learn on her own. Associate Professor Kiril Hristovski mentored Mihalcescu and encouraged her to pursue the degree based on her long-term goals, passions and skills. And she says senior lecturer Albert Brown inspired her to continuously strive to help the environment no matter how difficult the path may be.

Outside of the classroom, Mihalcescu participated in the Engineering Projects in Community Service program, known as EPICS. She helped direct and manage a team to assist the Mesa Museum of Natural History to build and design a new animatronic dinosaur.

“My biggest achievement with EPICS was helping lay the foundation for a project that will hopefully continue and generate a large impact for the museum,” she says.

Mihalcescu is considering attending graduate school to help give her the engineering superpower of getting the general public and politicians to understand the significance and urgency of climate science and policy demand.

For students on a similar path, Mihalcescu recommends “staying true to yourself.”

“Don’t forget you’re your number one fan,” she says. “Be kind to yourself when the plan changes or you feel like you’re struggling. The most rewarding part about your experience at ASU is succeeding in classes with difficult but incredibly interesting topics.”

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