Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Employee Spotlight
Caltrans District 7 Student Volunteers
From left, Panaiota (Yota) Georgalis, (center) Rochelle Mann, and Sarah Kevorkian.

Caltrans Student Volunteers
by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 04/2014

They're inspired by encouragement of their parents and of the engineering beauty of Denmark, Greece and Jordan.

The next generation of civil engineers have arrived in District 7 ---- and four of six are women!

Through the district's student volunteer program, six civil engineers and engineering students have called District 7 Maintenance Division 'home' for awhile.

Rochelle Mann is a UCLA graduate who is close to earning a master's degree in structural and seismic engineering. Sarah Kevorkian is a junior at UC Irvine studying civil engineering, Panaiota (Yota) Georgalis, is a junior at Cal Poly Pomona.

These young ladies are spending at least one day a week to "sponge up stuff" as they say, while on field trips to Caltrans various work sites to job shadow, collect data, navigate site plans and read Caltrans manuals.

" I love being a woman in engineering," said Rochelle Mann, who is new to Los Angeles and a newlywed. "While studying architecture, I found that it was a bit intimidating. I'm very sure that engineering if is definitely what I want to do."

The ladies agree that some paid internships don't always prepare you for the realities of work life in a particular field. That's not the case with this Caltrans student volunteer program, they say.

"There no pressure, therefore it's easier to just sponge up stuff," said Mann. "That makes me want to be here [at Caltrans] as much as possible."
Sarah Kevorkian shares her recent findings from the Wall Street Journal (or, was it her other favorite, Fortune 500 magazine), "I've recently read that only 11 percent of engineers in the US are women!" she exclaimed.

"It's good to see that women are moving forward," said Kevorkian. "Engineers make so many decisions in the things we have, things we use, and things we see," she says making her case by pointing out the window at the downtown Los Angeles landscape, City Hall and the Disney Concert Hall, and of course, our own District 7 Headquarters.

Trying to find the common denominator among the girls, they all spoke highly of their parents who set examples and encouraged their daughters to pursue their dreams. Mann's father is a California Highway Patrol officer in northern California, who encouraged her to look for an internship at Caltrans, knowing what he knows of the vast work we do to engineer the state's freeways and structures.

Kervokian is the daughter of District 7 Senior Transportation Engineer Gary Kevorkian, and Georgalis is the daughter of an electrical engineer and a teacher, whose hopes are for their daughter to do anything that inspires her.

Mann's inspiration comes from her Danish heritage of simple, clean lines. For Georgalis, its Greece, the ancient architecture and waterways, and for Kervokian, it's the lost city of Petra, Jordan.

Hopefully, they all will transition from student volunteers and apply for civil service positions with the State of California, especially here at Caltrans.