Sebastian Marra '18, BS Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Webster, N.Y.
The summer after high school, I worked in an ecology lodge at a camp, and that sparked my interest in environmental issues. I believe that educating students about environmental challenges and taking action to reverse the direction we're heading matters more now than ever before. I want to be part of that reversal — with a career centered on the remediation of highly polluted areas.
I definitely don't want to take a traditional route to the workforce, though. After graduation, I plan to take a year off to hike the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, along the West Coast. This will be an adventure of a lifetime! Following this, I plan to apply to a large company and carry on with my career. After two years in the field, I'll take the PE exam and see where it goes from there.
Thanks to many leadership and professional development opportunities offered through the Career Center and the Student Success Center, I'm confident that I can enter the working world and thrive in a higher-level position. I gained experience working as a co-op for Eversource Energy in West Hartford, Conn. After speaking with my supervisor and networking with other environmental engineers in the company, I realized that I would be good at — and enjoy — working in the field of environmental remediation. My classes for the next three semesters will increase my technical knowledge and prepare me for a good job after college.
When I was considering colleges, it was a choice between two schools — Clarkson and RIT. It seemed like a simple decision, since RIT was so close to home. However, after a strong recommendation from my AP chemistry teacher, I visited Clarkson, and I am so glad I did! I guess what decided it for me was a combination of extremely dedicated professors, a large amount of financial aid and the charm of a small college town in rural New York, where the winters feel like absolute zero. But seriously, the first year of study is the same for every type of engineer. That’s what sold me on Clarkson — that grace period to settle on a major. I had the time to explore and think.
I've had awesome opportunities at Clarkson. In fall 2016, I conducted research with Professors Paul Goulet and Lina Bian, characterizing and synthesizing nanoparticles. It was one of the most fascinating things I have experienced. The applications for nanoparticles are limitless! Their potential application for faster and less expensive cleanup of environmental disasters, such as oil spills off the coast, pipeline fractures and fracking incidents, interests me the most.
I feel as if I've grown personally, as well as academically, during my time at Clarkson. I learned to balance five classes with research and other activities. I joined Sigma Phi Epsilon, a fraternity located on campus; it was the best investment of my time that I could have made! Instead of the traditional six-week rush program, the fraternity is focused on shaping potential members into young professionals by requiring them to participate in cultural events, leadership seminars and team-building activities on campus. I learned a lot during those weeks, and, the following semester, I was elected to the executive board as vice president. My responsibilities with the board also helped to develop my time-management and planning skills.
In addition, I am a member of three honor societies: Tau Beta Pi (engineering), Tau Chi Alpha (environmental engineering) and Order of Omega (Greek).