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NMSU civil engineering graduate goes to Washington, D.C.

After graduating from New Mexico State University in December, civil engineering student Devon Gijsbers has temporarily joined Senator Tom Udall's staff as an intern.

This is a head and shoulders photo of NMSU civil engineering graduate Devon Gijsbers, who is interning for Sen. Tom Udall in Washington, D.C.
NMSU civil engineering graduate Devon Gijsbers is interning for Senator Tom Udall in Washington, D.C. (NMSU courtesy photo)

Gijsbers, who as a Rio Rancho High School senior conducted research on the far-reaching effects of water resources on third world countries, said she developed an interest in water policy after basing her senior thesis on "Privatization and Globalization of Water."

"The paper inspired me to take a stand," she explained. "Instead of becoming just another voice in a sea of vocal advocacy, I wanted to take a more practical and real approach toward finding a solution. That is why I decided to pursue a degree in civil engineering. My adviser, Dr. Phil King, is also deeply involved with water policy in the southwest, and under his mentorship I learned that a technical, scientific background is the first step toward sound, thoughtful policy."

A former member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and senator of Associated Students of New Mexico State University, Gijsbers said she attended the Water Resource and Research Institute's 57th annual water conference where she first learned of the internship opportunity.

"I was so impressed with the thoughtful, thorough and down-to-business attitude of the conference that I knew I had to be involved with solution making processes like these," she said.

Gijsbers said her degree in civil engineering offers her numerous opportunities to explore different career paths; she advised students to take advantage of honor and extracurricular programs at the university.

"If you are willing, the College of Engineering at NMSU can provide the tools that you can use to build a better future for yourself and humanity," she added. "As a sophomore, I was hired as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. King. I had the opportunity to attend important water conferences around the state and hear both problems and solutions from engineers, policy makers and owners in some of the state's most challenging water arenas."

The internship in Udall's camp is an appropriate fit for Gijsbers, who has said that her final career goal is water policy.

"I want to be a policy maker who creates comprehensive and well-informed solutions to water problems," she said. "I want to be the bridge between the engineer who designs the solution and the policy maker who implements and enforces it. After I have several years of field experience under my belt, I intend to make the transition into the political area by possibly running for public office or pursuing a career with either the New Mexico State Legislature or even the U.S. federal government."