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Natural disaster inspires UC scholar to pursue civil engineering

Speech at Choose Ohio First Showcase connects inclusion, innovation and community impact

Ambar Alvarez-Garcia once had a teacher tell her that no college would accept her.  

Now a second-year civil engineering student and Choose Ohio First scholar at the University of Cincinnati, Alvarez-Garcia recently spoke at the 12th annual Choose Ohio First Scholar Showcase 2020 about her journey to college and discovering how supporting diversity in STEM could lead to more innovative problem-solving.

Alvarez-Garcia, a Mexican immigrant and American citizen, was inspired to become a civil engineer in 2017, when a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit several Mexican states. Seeing the destruction in her family's neighborhood in Mexico City, the homes that were lost and the fear that shook the residents motivated her to develop skills to prevent future damage from natural disasters.  

"I wanted to use science to create solutions that gave me the ability to help others, even if they are a thousand miles away," said Alvarez-Garcia.

Alvarez-Garcia says both the scholarship program and experiental learning opportunities at UC have inspired her find a supportive community, embrace her identity, build confidence, develop leadership skills, empower others and realize what it takes for to create a better future for herself and the people around her.

"My parents gave up everything when they moved to the United States. They gave up their country, their language and their home so my sister and I could have a better life and education," said Alvarez-Garcia. "My parents' dream can become a reality...It is all thanks to Choose Ohio First."

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Featured image at top: The Engineering Research Center, viewed from the roof of Lindner Hall. Photo/John Martini/UC Planning, Design & Construction.