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Press Release

Cal Poly Students Honored by Lawmakers at State Capitol Today, Jan. 30

Contact: Jay Thompson

805-756-5186; 805-235-0955(c)

[email protected]

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Nineteen Cal Poly students will be recognized for their awards, hard work and other accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento today (Monday, Jan. 30).

“These young adults have distinguished themselves in so many ways during their time at Cal Poly,” said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who accompanied the group to Sacramento. “They truly are representatives of our campus’s Learn by Doing ethos and individuals who are an inspiration to students in middle and high schools who seek to achieve a hands-on education.

“It’s a pleasure to share their accomplishments with California’s elected officials, who will get a chance to see for themselves the quality, enthusiasm and energy of what our faculty, staff and I know will be tomorrow’s industry innovators and community leaders.”

Students on the steps of the capitol building
Students at the state capitol building

The group will be introduced Monday afternoon to the Senate by Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, and to the Assembly by Assemblymember Dawn Addis of Morro Bay, who is the first female Democrat ever to hold this seat. Both officials represent San Luis Obispo County.

The students also will meet with Karl Larson, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis’s higher education advisor. Kounalakis plays an important role in Golden State higher education as a member of the boards that oversee the University of California and the California State University. Cal Poly is one of the 23 CSU campuses. Larson earned a doctorate in molecular, cellular and integrative physiology from UC Davis.

Most of these Cal Poly students call California home — from Santa Rosa to San Diego County. Five are from outside the Golden State — Colorado, Oregon and Washington, including a pair from the East Coast — Georgia and Virginia.

The students represent all six Cal Poly colleges: five from the College of Engineering and College of Architecture and Environmental Design; three from the Orfalea College of Business; and two each from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Services, College of Liberal Arts and College of Science and Mathematics.

Each has distinguished himself or herself, as an individual or on a team that has received a national industry award or in other high-profile events. These include the 2023 Tournament of Roses Parade, with its worldwide TV audience in the millions; the concrete canoe team that won the national championship and made history for it; Cal Poly student government officers and Greek system awardees; agriculture and architecture competitons; student research; and student athlete club accomplishments in forestry skills, national mountain biking championship medal recipients as well as the MPV of the team that earned a U.S. soccer title.

The group also met family, friends and alumni at a reception in Alamo on Sunday and a Monday breakfast meeting with industry advocates.

Participating Cal Poly students are:

Gracie Babatola

Santa Cruz, California

Grace Babitola portrait
Gracie Babatola

A political science major in the College of Liberal Arts, Babatola is Cal Poly’s 2022-23 student body president. “I’ve always just loved being in a room where decisions were being made,” she said. Active in student government while in high school, when she entered as a Cal Poly freshman in the fall of 2020, the pandemic was dramatically impacting campus life and classes. She sensed something else: a disconnect between the student body and the Associated Students Inc., student government. As a sophomore she decided to change that and ran last spring on a platform of “rebuilding connections.” Achieving that starts with “having students understand what ASI and what student government really is,” she said. “I often meet students who obviously understand the general idea of student government, but they don’t see the particular ways ASI has benefited them.” The 20-year-old also sits on several committees whose work touches many facets of student life for campus residents and those who commute. She also is a representative on the Academic Senate Executive Committee, composed of senior administration officials and key faculty members. At the state Capitol, Babatola, who has a focus on pre-law, plans to continue speaking for her youthful electorate by pressing lawmakers on one of her key issues: “Care about the politics of young people beyond election season when our votes are needed.” Cal Poly has provided many opportunities for the six-time Dean’s List scholar. When she was considering colleges to attend, three things convinced her to commit to become a Mustang: affordability; proximity to Santa Cruz; and a Learn by Doing learning style that extends from the technical and biological sciences to the liberal arts, she said. “Cal Poly is helping me by providing hands-on experiences working with local governmental leaders and helping me network with industry professionals as I think about law and graduate schools.” Babatola is minoring in ethics, public policy, science and technology and plans to graduate this spring and attend law school with the goal of becoming a public defender. “I’m hoping that my role in student government will improve my communication skills and my network,” she said. “In political science there’s often two main routes for graduates to go: law or elected office. This position (as ASI president) has helped me see other ways I can help people outside of politics.”

Annie Doody

Glendale, California

Annie Doody portrait
Annie Doody

Doody, a marine sciences senior in the College of Science and Mathematics, knows a thing or two about roses, the Tournament of Roses and (especially) the Rose Parade. As the 2022-23 president of Cal Poly Rose Float, she was overjoyed on Jan. 2 with the early morning announcement that their entry, “Road to Reclamation” (her name suggestion), had garnered the Extraordinaire Float Award — the group’s 62nd award since 1949. This moment was made even more special considering her association with the parade dated back to 2009 when the 8-year-old Girl Scout volunteer helped decorate another honoree, 2010’s “Jungle Cuts.” Living in Glendale, near Pasadena, she came back year after year. And when it was time to pick a university, the decision was easy: Rose Float and Pacific proximity. As a Cal Poly Rose Float member, Doody worked her way up the ladder and for 2022’s “Stargrazers” was one of the four operators riding unseen below the float’s decorative shell. The program works in tandem with the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona to produce a whimsical floral artwork that is seen by millions across the world on TV. Doody tales her role as a student representative of Cal Poly seriously. “I’m honored and excited to represent both my college, and the university to state lawmakers,” the 21-year-old said. “In my opinion, my experiences, though one of many, help demonstrate the bevy of different opportunities available to students on the Cal Poly campus. I want to show our lawmakers the kind of person they are making laws for: People, like me, who are critical thinkers, and conscientious of their environment and the people around them.” Doody likes theatrics — she’s a theater minor — and adores Shakespeare, especially “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.” She will graduate this spring and next pursue a career as a consultant assessing environmental and social impacts of development projects.

Jessica Fisher

Newcastle, California

Jessica Fisher portrait
Jessica Fisher

Fisher, a civil engineering senior in the College of Engineering, is chapter president of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority that received two national awards from the parent organization. The Alpha Chi Omega Sorority Diversity and Inclusion Award has been presented annually since 2018 to recognize chapters’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at the local level. The Chapter Progress Award is presented to the local houses that have displayed significant growth and progress in chapter management, member support and development. “Alpha Chi Omega has given me the space to grow and flourish into a strong and driven individual,” Fisher said. The 21-year-old, whose father is an alumnus, applied to Cal Poly for the engineering program “and the ability to network/get a job right out of college,” she said. “Cal Poly offers important courses taught by knowledgeable professors who are willing to help you when you struggle. Learn by Doing has always been my best style of learning. It’s Cal Poly’s motto. It follows this model, and it leads to great success.” Fisher is honored to represent her fellow sorority sisters at the state Capitol. “This is an experience I will never forget, and I’m humbled to be a part of it,” she said, adding she will promote the benefits of higher education to lawmakers. “Education is so important. I would not be where I am today if it was not for Cal Poly.” In addition, she and her peers will be honored on the Assembly floor. “My mom was honored by the Assembly about 15 years ago for being the Citrus Heights Police Department Dispatcher of the Year,” Fisher said. “She battled breast and brain cancer for the past 10 years and unfortunately passed away a month ago. Being honored by the state Assembly just like she was is something that I hold incredibly close to me.” After graduation this spring, Fisher will start her career as a civil analyst for Kimley-Horn San Diego, full-service planning and design consultants with 100 offices across the nation.

Claire Franz

Boulder, Colorado

Claire Franz portrait
Claire Franz

Franz, a mechanical engineering senior in the College of Engineering, was co-director of a 12-member Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers team that won the national Team Tech Competition with a prototype model to solve the problem of empty seats on commercial airplanes. Franz and four teammates represented the team at the competition. “Empty seats represent a major loss in revenue and wasted resources,” she said. “If we can put cargo on these seats, we can improve connectivity to rural regions because the flights will be profitable for airlines, allowing more frequent flights and a lower risk of cancellation.” The Boeing Co. sponsors the annual competition that emphasizes the importance of teamwork and the interface with industry in the engineering education process. Creating an anthropomorphic case appealed to the 21-year-old. Franz plans to use her Cal Poly education to pursue a career as a medical device design engineers — a dream she’s harbored since she was a teen. “I have wanted to go to Cal Poly since the exact same day I wanted to be an engineer,” she said. “I shadowed a medical device engineer who was also a Cal Poly alum and heard all about why both engineering and Cal Poly are amazing.” Franz is honored to represent “all the incredible students, faculty and staff” to state representatives. “It means a lot that this opportunity exists for students to reach beyond Cal Poly and connect with California government officials,” she said. “This bridge is vital, and it means a lot to me to be a part of this process.” Franz plans to graduate this spring, but she won’t be going far, at least for a while: “I’ll be continuing at Cal Poly for a blended master’s mechanical engineering program until June 2024.”

Grace Gruverman


Grace Bruverman portrait
Grace Gruverman

Gruverman, studying architecture in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, was a finalist in the Architizer fourth annual One Drawing Challenge, a national contest that asked students to “tell a powerful visual story about architecture and the people that inhabit it through a single architectural drawing.” Her entry, “un_bound,” is an interpretation of the barriers “among urban fabrics with regards to the Boyle Heights neighborhood within the greater context of Los Angeles.” Her analysis revealed that while urban barriers exist, different modes of transportation serve to provide access. Moreover, it’s communities like Boyle Heights, with its unique working-class character, that keep greater Los Angeles from losing its signature multiethnic roots. “While my drawing is primarily black and white, I recognize that this urban fabric of Boyle Heights simply stands as several shades of gray and reiterates that not all borders are merely black and white,” she said. Being selected to represent Cal Poly “remains a privilege,” said the 21-year-old, straight-A scholar, “as innovative design cannot be accomplished without collaboration from various parties.” She learned of her college’s architecture program from its national ranking and then traveled cross country to attend. The Learn by Doing university didn’t disappoint. “By attending Cal Poly, I learned to design and build a full-scale small structure with a small team. Through my classes, I feel prepared to work in the architecture industry with my understanding of building codes, sustainability and structural integrity and systems.” Gruverman, who has been a competitive equestrian athlete for 16 years, plans to graduate in 2025.

Isabella Heinemann

Mill Valley, California

Isabella Heinemann portrait
Isabella Heinemann

Heinemann, a second-year mechanical engineering major in the College of Engineering, is also a competitive mountain bike racer. She placed third in the individual omnium — or overall — at the 2022 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships, held last October in the rugged San Juan Mountains near Durango, Colorado, by racing in all five events: downhill; dual slalom; cross country; short track; and team relay. Competing in the women’s club division, she was third in the dual slalom and earned bronze in the downhill race, where teammate Maranda Maliska took silver. The competition was held at the Purgatory Resort Bike Park, over 9,000-foot high, on trails through stands of pine, spruce and fir in the San Juan National Forest. “I grew up ski racing,” she said. “The mountains will forever hold an important place in my heart.” The chance to pay her medals forward at the state Capitol in Sacramento is inspiring, she said. “It’s a unique opportunity to talk about the community at Cal Poly that I’ve fallen in love with and that has allowed me to grow as a person by doing the things I love,” the 20-year-old said. “Specifically, the cycling community in San Luis Obispo has been tremendously supportive athletically and academically. I’m always so proud to represent Cal Poly at the numerous cycling events I participate in including the Collegiate National Championships.” She plans to lobby lawmakers for continued funding for higher education. “Students who feel connected to and supported by their communities will thrive and help create the innovative positive change our cities, states and country need,” she said. While Heinemann found the area around Cal Poly perfect for her avocation, her main draw, thanks to a head’s up from Dad, is the university’s Learn by Doing philosophy. “My teachers are excited to be here and understand effective teaching methods,” she added. The Bay Area resident plans a 2025 graduation, but she already knows what she’s going to do: “Improve people’s lives and the health of our country by strengthening communities.”

Emmett Huggins


Emmett Huggins portrait
Emmett Huggins​​

Huggins, an architectural engineering, or ARCE, student in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, is the vice president of a successful competitive Cal Poly team that is also one of the university’s best-kept secrets: the Logging Team. The diverse group is made up of students from 25 different majors who participate in traditional forestry field skills lured by the love of the outdoors and a chance to challenge logs with sharp axes and saws, powered by gasoline and, others, by elbow grease. Last November the team hosted and won the 2022 Cal Conclave, an annual collegiate logging competition, against teams across the Golden State and Arizona including California State Polytechnic University in Humboldt; UC Berkeley; and Northern Arizona University. Huggins, an Eagle Scout, was awarded Bull of the Woods, or top male competitor. The 22-year-old who looks forward to representing his teammates at the state Capitol. “It brings me a great deal of pride and confidence being selected to represent my team and community in the political realm,” Huggins said. “I will represent the ARCE Department and the Cal Poly Logging Team with honor and respect to all those that have helped me or anyone else along the way.” He learned of Cal Poly from family and friends and found the surrounding community a good fit for him. In addition, the university has opened his eyes to the world “by offering a unique educational experience in true Learn by Doing fashion, supplemented with cheerful faculty always willing to help students learn and thrive.” He plans to graduate soon, and while he hasn’t planned his next step, he travels hopeful with the goal “to remain cheerful and bring joy wherever my smile and open mind takes me,” he said.

Trevor Jones

Santa Rosa, California

Trevor Jones portrait
Trevor Jones

Jones, a dual major in computer engineering and physics in the College of Engineering and College of Science and Mathematics respectively, will graduate in March. The 23-year-old, straight-A scholar has made the Dean’s List 13 straight quarters. He also earned honors as the team lead of the Cal Poly Supermileage team that took first place in the Prototype Battery Electric Category at the 2022 Shell Eco-Marathon event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last April. The students overcame long odds after a year spent rebuilding following two years of virtual instruction. The competition itself was at the fabled Brickyard, where each team’s electric vehicle had to complete four, 2.5-mile laps in 40 minutes or less, with the winner achieving the highest energy efficiency. The hard-working Cal Poly squad won that national competition with an efficiency of 139.7 miles per kilowatt hour, edging out the No. 2 team by over 45 miles per kilowatt hour. Jones said he’s honored to have the opportunity to speak with lawmakers and knows what he plans to discuss: “All road and highway expansion money should be redirected to improving public transit, walking and bicycling infrastructure,” he said. Jones learned about Cal Poly from family and friends and decided to apply based on three simple reasons: small class sizes; opportunities for hands-on education; and affordability. Cal Poly helped him meet his educational goals thanks to the resources available to students. “They allowed me to learn about a wide variety of things in a hands-on way,” he said. Jones’s next chapter will begin soon enough: “I plan to start work as a software engineer this summer.”

Adam LeClair

Carlsbad, California

Adam LeClair portrait
Adam LeClair

LeClair is a business administration student with a focus on information systems at the Orfalea College of Business. His fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, received two national awards in 2022. The group received the Best Community Service Project for efforts to assist San Luis Obispo’s Hawthorne Elementary School, a federal Title I school that receives funding to improve academic achievement schoolwide. Zeta Beta Tau also received the Parent Relations Award for maintaining active communications with parents and actively engaging them throughout the year. LeClair also serves on Cal Poly’s Interfraternity Council, or IFC, that works to overcome issues related to fraternity and sorority life on campus. Being able to represent his fraternity and the IFC in Sacramento is a great honor, LeClair said. “Personally, I never imagined myself being selected for something like this, but it is an absolute privilege to be honored on the same level as the remarkable people that are attending this tour as well,” he said of the group of peers. LeClair initially was attracted to the campus by the outdoor activities and opportunities to get involved. But this utility player came to love the “unique variety of classes I never would have imagined being able to take. I value education amongst a variety of topics, rather than mastery in a single area. I am very happy that I am able to explore and learn all types of topics while I am still in school.” LeClair plans to graduate in 2024.

Maranda Maliska

Tehachapi, California

Miranda Maliska portrait
Miranda Maliska

Maliska, a construction management major in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design who graduated in December, earned dual honors at the 2022 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Durango, Colorado, last October. Competing in the women’s club division she earned gold in the dual slalom race — the national title — where two riders start together and race side-by-side, and a silver medal in the downhill race. She takes pride in representing the Learn by Doing university to state representatives. “It gives me great joy to be able to represent Cal Poly and the cycling club,” the 23-year-old said. She transferred to Cal Poly in 2020 from nearby Cuesta College, attracted by the construction management program. Her career goal is executive management at a construction firm. Since June she has worked as an assistant project manager at Santa Maria-based Edwards Construction Group Inc., with offices in San Diego. The family-owned firm has done some high-profile Central Coast projects: improvements at the Pismo Beach Pier Plaza; and school projects in Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria and Shell Beach.

Malia Marantan

Aldie, Virginia

Malia Marantan portrait
Malia Marantan

Marantan, a third-year architecture major in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, was a finalist in the Architizer fourth annual One Drawing Challenge. The New York-based platform for architecture and design that hosts projects uploaded by the designers. The annual contest challenges students through their architectural drawings to be “powerful visual storytellers, communicating a wide range of qualities about a building or space. … The One Drawing Challenge calls for submissions that defy convention, spark curiosity and make us pause to look closer.” The result is a cross between a building rendering and a fine art. Marantan’s entry, “Vista Fragmentado,” considers the interlacing of downtown Los Angeles and the Boyle Heights neighborhood to the east, which are separated by a concrete ribbon of the Los Angeles River. “The relation of consistent, cyclical geometry provides a moment for distinct views to take place, fragmenting each cityscape into an abstract piece of solid and void that come together as one,” said Marantan, who grew up about 30 miles from Washington, D.C. The 20-year-old was attracted to Cal Poly after seeing a mention of it “in a list of well-established architecture programs in the country,” she said, adding that the pace of the classes was challenging: “I think the progression through the quarter system has pushed me to maintain a good pace of things and be comfortable with learning quickly.” Recognition from her One Drawing Challenge entry is gratifying. “I appreciate the recognition from this selection,” she said, “and hope that it will benefit me and others as well.” Meanwhile, another goal looms for the future architect: “To get a good standing internship at an architecture firm.”

Cole McKnight

Alamo, California

Cole McKnight portrait
Cole McKnight

McKnight, who is majoring in industrial technology and packaging with a minor is sales in the Orfalea College of Business, is president of the award-winning Delta Chi Fraternity. The campus chapter won the President’s Cup — Delta Chi’s most coveted and prestigious award — that demonstrates “superior excellence in operational performance, while promoting a strong values-based fraternal experience and creating a measurable impact for their members, campuses and communities.” The 130-member group “put an emphasis on involvement in the campus community,” according to the parent organization. “The chapter raised nearly $3,000 for RISE San Luis Obispo County, an organization that supports survivors of sexual assault, sexual violence and domestic abuse … (and) hosted three philanthropic events … raising over $5,000 in support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research.” The non-profit foundation has awarded over $310 million in cancer research grants nationwide since 1993. As a result, McKnight feels pride as a representative of his fraternity. “I am very honored to represent Cal Poly to the state lawmakers in Sacramento,” the 22-year-old said. “I am thankful to represent such a great organization here on the Cal Poly campus and am very proud of all the work we have done.” McKnight is from a Cal Poly family, as both parents are alumni, so it was an easy decision on what university to attend. He plans to graduate this year and pursue a career in business. “My career goal is to manage the entire sales team at a software company,” he said.

Heather Migdal

Cupertino, California

Heather Midgal portrait
Heather Midgal

Migdal, who is studying civil engineering in the College of Engineering, made history with her six teammates at last June’s ASCE Society-Wide Concrete Canoe Competition at Louisiana Tech University — the first in-person event since 2019. Cal Poly has a rich history in the national contest to create a custom-made canoe out of a material most people associate with sidewalks. The victory was the school’s sixth championship in the competition’s 35-year history, snapping what had been a four-way tie with schools boasting five title trophies. Migdal, the team’s senior construction manager and paddler, celebrated the win on her 21st birthday. Their boat, Europa, was built around a theme of space exploration. The canoe is fabricated by hand using a special recipe of aggregates and cement, then hand-sanded like fine furniture. The competition combines the rigors of engineering and construction with an eye toward the arts and aesthetics — a signature over the years of the tight-knit team. And after making the technical presentation and having the boat assessed by judges, team members get in the boat, grab paddles and race boat-to-boat. Migdal, a straight-A scholar who plays field hockey in spare time, plans to become a licensed structural engineer after graduation in June with the goal of designing buildings. Cal Poly has offered her “an amazing education and fostered an environment for me to grow,” she said. She is proud to represent her concrete canoe teammates at the state Capitol. “It means a lot to be recognized for my accomplishments,” she said.

Ciera Millard

San Marcos, California

Ciera Millard portrait
Ciera Millard

Millard, who is studying business administration and information systems in the Orfalea College of Business, received first place last November at the Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition and Electronic Undergraduate Statistics Research Conference. The 19-year-old evaluated ETV, a three-step data-processing technique (Extract, Transform, Visualize) that results in more insightful and useful conclusions from the analysis process. She presented her findings in a video at the conference. Her goal, after graduating in 2025, is to piggyback on that success and work in information systems and help design computer networks to better protect and maintain sensitive data. “Data science and statistics education is in increasing demand as decisions based on data analysis are rising in prevalence throughout the technology-powered workforce,” she said. “Cal Poly is helping me pursue my goal and has also allowed me to speak at multiple conferences about topics I’m passionate about, like data science education.” Millard is looking forward to meeting state lawmakers. “To represent my college and university in Sacramento is truly an honor,” she said. “I am very proud of my school. To be selected to show them what makes Cal Poly unique is something I never expected.” One of her hobbies is Dance Dance Revolution, a fast-paced arcade rhythm dance game launched in Japan about 25 years ago. It has shifted away from public facilities in the wake of the pandemic, Millard explored in her 2020 video, “Dancing with Myself,” that debuted at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. The fleet-footed DDR player, ranked 19th in the nation, thinks the now-more-virtual game and community it spawned will endure.

Ron Patanavin

San Francisco

Ron Patanavin portrait
Ron Patanavin

Patanavin, who is from the Ladprao district in Bangkok, Thailand, is studying in the College of Architecture and Environmental Sciences to become a licensed architect, working in San Francisco. He’s on his way: The 21-year-old won the 2022 American Institute of Steel Construction and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s Steel Design Student Competition. The annual competition offers upper-level architecture students from more than 60 colleges and universities across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico the opportunity to develop project designs with steel as the primary material. Patavin’s submission “Tomols,” a type of vernacular canoe built by the Chumash people, envisioned retrofitting a decommissioned offshore oil platform near Santa Barbara, California, as a cultural center for the Chumash — highlighting their history and connection to the sea. The design was selected from a pool of 1,200 participants from such schools as Auburn, Princeton, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Rochester Institute of Technology and UC campuses, including Berkeley. For his effort, he also received a $4,000 prize. He will bring the perspective of an international student to lawmakers in Sacramento. “As an international student, the biggest struggle for me was finding out where I belong in the American college culture,” he said. “It was very difficult for me, but in the end I eventually got there. This struggle greatly shaped my college experience and who I am today.” Patanavin plans to graduate next year. Meanwhile, he’s currently working in San Francisco on low-income housing projects and is busy training for an Ironman Triathlon in Morro Bay this spring.

Fiona Plunkett

San Francisco

Fiona Plunkett portrait
Fiona Plunkett

Plunkett, a senior studying bioresource and agricultural engineering, or BRAE, in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, plans to pursue a master’s degree at Cal Poly after graduation this June. The 21-year-old distinguished herself on a Cal Poly club soccer team that won the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Women’s National Soccer Championships last November in Round Rock, Texas. Cal Poly and the University of Connecticut played a tight contest in the final that was decided by a 93rd-minute goal from a header off a corner kick. It was Cal Poly’s first national championship. Plunkett was named most valuable player in the Women’s Championship Division. “My team and I worked incredibly hard to get our national title, and for me — as the president and team captain and all the behind-the-scenes work I had to do — it was very rewarding,” she said. “I could not be prouder of my team. That I get to represent all of them on this tour is a unique opportunity.” She was attracted to Cal Poly by its location and hands-on learning but also by the students she met, “so it felt like a good fit.” Initially, she didn’t know much about her major, which prepares a general type of engineer who is adept at using electrical and mechanical energy sources, water resources and designing structural units. Her mentors, classes and internships have helped her find her way forward. “I’m thankful for the professors I’ve had in BRAE, and I am looking forward to continuing my education in civil engineering with a focus in water resources,” she said.

Jacob Schlottmann-McGonigle

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Jacob Scholttmann-McGonigle portrait
Jacob Scholttmann-McGonigle

Schlottmann-McGonigle, a political science senior with a concentration in pre-law in the College of Liberal Arts, describes himself as a “future lawyer and public servant.” He has been active in Cal Poly student government for several years — as the student co-chair of the Associated Students Inc. or ASI, Alumni Council; the External Affairs Committee that represent student views of government laws and policies; and chairman of the University Union Advisory Board that makes policy recommendations for such ASI-managed facilities as the sports fields, the student union and even the 50-foot Cal Poly P that looks down from the slopes of the eastern edge of campus. Cal Poly students are stakeholders in ASI and have access to leadership positions through student government and on-campus employment at ASI facilities. The 22-year-old plans to graduate in June. “My experience in the workforce alongside my many years spent volunteering has shaped my view and understanding of the world,” he said. “Currently, I am interested in going into either immigration or constitutional law as a way of helping people who are less fortunate than myself. Past employers have described me as a dreamer and a doer.” Moreover, he ultimately aspires to “to start my own non-profit.” The former high school cross country runner has crested even greater challenges. He has climbed 14,505-foot Mt. Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states.

Mads Wales

Indio, California

Mads Wales portrait
Mads Wales

Wales, a graphic communication senior in the College of Liberal Arts, was part of the seven-member team that last March won the Phoenix Challenge Flexo Packaging Competition. The yearlong project, which is open to colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada, had students helping a local small business rebrand and market itself with materials using the flexographic print process, a technique that uses a flexible plate to print on a variety of materials, for their design of new sustainable packaging and business labels. They worked with a small San Luis Obispo-based specialty baker to develop and design a cupcake carrying box, a three-pack extract box and different labels to allow the firm to market to specific groups and expand to new demographics. “The Phoenix Challenge was an amazing opportunity to put my packaging design skills to use and make an impact on an actual business,” Wales said. “By representing the College of Liberal Arts and Cal Poly, I hoped to show how our university’s Learn by Doing motto makes us stand out and prepares students for entering the workforce.” The 22-year-old plans to graduate this spring and begin a career as a consumer packaging designer. The competitive fencer looks forward to meeting state representatives. “As a college student and young adult, I hope to express to lawmakers how important it is for high school graduates to attend college, especially one like Cal Poly where they get hands-on experiences starting Day One,” Wales said.

Ashley Waymire

Visalia, California

Ashley Waymire portrait
Ashley Waymire

Waymire is an animal science senior in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences who plans to graduate in June. Her team were runners-up at the 101st National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest held last October at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition, she was ranked seventh best overall individual. In addition, she placed second in the Red and White breed evaluation (of mostly Holstein animals), seventh in oral reasons and ninth in placings. “It’s an honor to be selected,” she said. “California boasts the top dairy industry in the nation, and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent Cal Poly, the college and the California dairy industry to state lawmakers.” Waymire grew up on her family’s citrus and walnut ranch and always knew her dream school. “My mom attended Cal Poly under agriculture management, so I’ve grown up always wanting to go to Cal Poly,” she said. Also, she was attracted by the number of animal units on campus and the opportunities they offered for hands-on learning. She is very active on campus, including the Ambassador program that promotes the college to prospective students, alumni, industry and government partners. Over the past four years she has worked at the college’s dairy unit, with stints in the milking, calf feeding, herdsman and breeding departments. Her goal is a career in the dairy industry as a genetic and reproductive consultant. “I came to Cal Poly with no experience or any knowledge regarding the dairy industry,” she said. “I will graduate being recognized as one of the top undergraduate dairy students in the nation. I am forever indebted to Cal Poly for the unique hands-on opportunities that the college offers students.”