By Kate Kurtin
Students pursue engineering for a host of reasons; for senior Lindsey Fink (Chemical Engineering) it was as a means to help people. Originally attracted to UConn because of the Honors Program and school spirit, Lindsey has participated in numerous UConn outreach activities.
In March 2009, Lindsey participated in a trip to New Orleans sponsored by UConn Community Outreach. During the weeklong “alternative break,” students were tasked with salvaging products that had been abandoned in the wake of the floods. “The site that I was working on was an abandoned house that was being used for salvaged materials that could be used to rebuild the city,” Lindsey explained. While not directly related to engineering, the trip reaffirmed Lindsey’s beliefs that she could and would use her education to better the world.
Inspired by her time in New Orleans, Lindsey signed up for a second alternative break during winter 2009. This trip with Community Outreach included a bus ride to Atlanta, GA to engage in social rehabilitation. “I worked at furniture banks for people who were moving out of homeless shelters or living with HIV or AIDS, I also helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity, and tutored refugee children after school. We were doing different things every day,” Lindsey said.
Returning from these experiences, Lindsey was struck with the realization that in the field of engineering, there is limited opportunity to help and work with individual people. “I was looking for the personal experience of working with people one-on-one and getting the experience of helping them,” Lindsey explained. After this realization, she applied to the Peace Corps to put her engineering education to use in a developing country. “I wanted to work with water filtration, but every position needed a language requirement that I don’t have,” Lindsey said. While she was disappointed, Lindsey hopes her aspirations can still be fulfilled one day.
In the meantime, Lindsey has accepted a post-graduation job as a chemical engineer at Westinghouse Electric Company, where she has interned for the last two years. What drew her to Westinghouse was the prospect of nuclear energy as a clean energy source, but that doesn’t mean she is giving up on her goals to work with people one-on-one. “I have accepted the job at Westinghouse, but have also been looking for ways outside of work to get the fulfillment I need in helping people,” Lindsey said. To satisfy her dreams, Lindsey plans to sign up to be a sexual assault crisis counselor. The role should allow her to build her career at Westinghouse while also helping the community and leaving some time to jet off to a community in need.
As an honors student, Lindsey has conducted research at the University’s cogeneration power plant for two years while pursuing her B.S. She will graduate in May.
To take part in Community Outreach programs, or to find out more, visit: http://www.studentactivities.uconn.edu/co_index.html.