Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2023
Jessica Roy knew she was on the right path when she decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in engineering. As the child of two Arizona State University biomedical engineering alumni, she says that engineering applies to all areas of her life.
“Building my education in engineering has taught me so much more than hard sciences,” Roy says. “It has taught me to think critically but also realistically about possible solutions to the problems our society suffers from.”
In 2020, Roy transferred to ASU from Colorado State University to be closer to her family and father who had fatal stage four carcinoma. Amid the pandemic, she began studying at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Roy says she felt drawn to engineering for its opportunities in high-demand, hands-on, problem-solving type projects as well as the combination of complex engineering concepts with fluid, logic-based construction principles.
“I was exposed to construction courses that provided me with a different perspective on the built environment,” she says.
Roy pursued her interest in construction engineering by becoming a teaching assistant to Keith Hjelmstad, a President’s Professor of construction engineering. Roy assisted in administering Hjelmstad’s CNE 213 Introduction to Deformable Solids course. In the role, she was able to expand on the lessons she learned as a former student in the class.
“I truly fell in love with the value of teaching others and learned the importance of instruction as a means to reaching a deeper understanding,” Roy says. “I think teaching will always be a part of my intentions in life.”
As part of her curriculum requirements, she completed two internships with Hensel Phelps Construction. Through her time at Hensel Phelps, Roy gained industry experience at a large commercial construction company and built lasting relationships with professionals in the field.
In the fall of 2021, Roy took time away from her courses to care for her father.
“I made the decision to request a compassionate withdrawal from my courses in order to be the primary caretaker for my father while he fought and ultimately lost his two-year battle with cancer,” Roy says.
She found immense support from construction engineering faculty members Myles Morton, a faculty associate, and Brandon Montero, a courtesy affiliate, who offered her a role at Okland Construction Company. However, Roy found herself gravitating toward a career as a commercial airline pilot following a discovery flight at Scottsdale Airpark. With her mother’s support, Roy dove into flight training by setting aside time around her ASU class schedule.
“I was quite naive to how transformative my flight training would be,” she says. “There’s nothing quite like welcoming yourself and your loved ones to the skies.”
Roy received her private pilot’s certificate in December 2022. She has continued toward her goal of eventually flying a wide-body aircraft internationally for a major legacy airline by receiving her instrument rating and commercial license this year.
“My degree has awarded me the great honor of studying the most crucial concepts of hard science and critical thinking,” Roy says. “It impacts how I learn, conduct myself and move forward through life’s tribulations with relentless consistency.”