Greek Life and Engineering

CSU students choose to be involved with many different organizations on campus for many different reasons. In addition to engineering related clubs and organizations, some students become involved with on-campus fraternity or sorority organizations. April Rieger, is a current member and the previous president of the Chi Zeta chapter of Chi Omega at CSU and is a senior studying Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Spanish.

April (center) and some of her Chi Omega sisters

 

Why did you choose to join a sorority in the first place and were you worried that it might conflict with engineering and other school work?

When I was a freshman, I was worried that joining a sorority would interfere with my studies so I did not go through the recruitment process that year. By the end of freshman year however, I realized that I could handle my engineering school work and wanted to get involved in something outside of engineering. That lead me to my decision to rush in the fall semester of my sophomore year. I had friends at other schools who really enjoyed being a part of Greek life, and I wanted to get to know more people outside of my major. As I was going through recruitment, I was told over and over again that I could make greek life a small time commitment or a large one in my schedule, and that I would get out of it what I put into it. After being a member of Chi Omega for three years, I would echo this statement. I joined expecting to make it a small commitment still fearing it would conflict with my studies, however several different opportunities presented themselves and I became very involved. Even after becoming more involved, I was still able to stay on top of my school work and it gave me additional motivation to do well. In Chi Omega, high GPAs are rewarded and if my homework was done then I had time to participate in sisterhood events and socials. Joining a sorority, studying engineering, and working as an ambassador has definitely made me a very busy individual, but I still enjoy doing it all!

How has being in a sorority improved your professionalism and/or other skills you have learned?

Being apart of a sorority has allowed me to grow immensely as an individual. Throughout my three years of membership, I have gone through the recruitment process (on both sides), lived in a house full of 55 other women, served as Vice President, President, and attended our national convention. Serving as Vice President taught me how to approach individuals that are struggling academically and provide them with resources to be successful. Each individual has a different style and I helped each of my sisters with an individually tailored academic improvement plan to get them back on track. As president, I learned how to effectively communicate between a chapter full of women, an executive board, advisors, alumni members, and regional directors. I also learned various leadership skills, such as knowing when and how to delegate tasks and when to step in and help other executive members out with their responsibilities. I was also in charge of running several meetings per week and making sure all necessary topics were covered in those meeting agendas. Serving in these two roles also taught me a lot about effective teamwork as I got to serve as a member of the team while also as the leader. It was important to give my input but also to listen to others. I learned to trust my team, but also to expect that they would do their part. In my engineering studies, I have also had opportunities to work in a team, however we were doing design projects, not running a chapter of 200+ women! Both experiences have taught me a lot about working with others and have given me skills that I will use in the future. Being in these roles also allowed me to be a resource for women to come to for support or for conflict resolution. I got to know the women in my chapter a lot better and got leadership experience that I never expected to.

What advice would you give to a new engineering student and a new member of fraternity and sorority life at CSU?

To the new engineering student, I would say engineering is hard but that you can do it! I would also recommend to pick one thing to get involved with that first year. My freshman year I wasn’t involved in anything because I was too concerned with my studies. While your GPA is important, it is more important to be a well-rounded student with diverse and meaningful experiences (leadership, internships, service, etc.). I went from being involved in nothing to becoming involved in Greek life, working as an ambassador, volunteering for Ram Welcome, and joining Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Fraternity. To a new member in a fraternity or a sorority, the first year is can be strange, but stick with it because you will meet amazing individuals that will be some of your best friends and support for the rest of your life! It also makes the campus feel smaller and will help you to meet people outside of engineering.

Nate Deanda at Colorado State University

 

Why did you decide to go to CSU and study Civil Engineering?image1 (1)

I actually chose to go to CSU before I decided to study engineering. I wanted to go to a place that had a good community and was a nice distance from home, not too close but also not too far away. Being from Arvada, Colorado, I didn’t want to go to any of the colleges nearby in Denver, Golden, or Boulder so Fort Collins was just the right place. I was very impressed with the atmosphere surrounding Colorado State, and from the very first time I set foot on campus I felt like CSU was the right place for me.

The next step was choosing a major. I won’t lie–I was not one of those seniors in high school who knew exactly what they wanted to do.  In fact, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to study in college. I had an interest in architecture and buildings and I was pretty good at math and science, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to study engineering because I thought it would be way too hard. It wasn’t until I had a good conversation with my high school Physics teacher, who studied aerospace engineering at CU, that I decided I wanted to be an Engineer. He told me to go for it and if engineering was too hard I could always change my major. So after sending my application, I called the admissions office at CSU and told them that I would like to change my selected major from ‘Undecided’ to ‘Civil Engineering.’ I got into the Scott College of Engineering just fine and am now well on my way to becoming a civil engineer.

How difficulty are your courses in engineering?

School is very challenging as an engineering student. It’s not as hard as what I was expecting in high school, but my college major has pushed me to work to achieve my full potential. An engineering degree isn’t something many people can earn on their own; the difficulty of the classes has forced me out of my own personal “study bubble” and caused me to study in groups or with friends. For an engineering student, academic life and social life mix a lot. I have met some of my best friends at CSU through classes, becoming friends because we chose to spend so much time studying together. School is hard, but for me the academic challenge of engineering has helped me to realize my own strengths and have made me a better student for lifetime full of learning.

Do you meet many people outside of engineering at CSU?

Absolutely! One of the things I love about CSU is the fact that it is a large university with a lot of different types of people. The College of Engineering is a small college within a big university. There are so many ways to get involved on campus and meet all kinds of different people who are studying all sorts of majors. One of the former associate deans for the College of Engineering told me that “it’s important for engineers to meet real people” and CSU definitely provides you with an opportunity to do that. I have met a lot of aspiring engineers at CSU and also many others who want to be veterinarians, mathematicians, social workers, journalists, police officers, nurses, lawyers, farmers, businessmen, teachers, politicians, doctors, musicians, geologists, and many others!

What are you involved with on campus at CSU?

As a Ram, I have done many things to be involved and keep connected outside of academics. My freshman year I had a great experience playing the tuba in the CSU Marching Band. I have also been involved with a church group, FOCUS Bible studies, concert band, greek life, residence hall council, and student employment opportunities, such as my position as a Student Ambassador for the College of Engineering. The most fulfilling thing I have had the privilege to be involved with at CSU is my position as a Resident Assistant. Being an RA has been a great way for me to be a student leader and make a positive difference on the CSU community. I have also met some of my closest friends and made some of my favorite memories of college from being an RA.

What made you choose Civil Engineering over any other concentration of engineering?

Before I had decided on engineering, I wanted to be an architect; I’ve always been interested in buildings, bridges, and structures and I thought that architecture was the best way to pursue that. However, after looking into it, I found that I was not visually artistic enough to be an architect. I found that civil and structural engineers do a lot of the same work I was interested in but with more of a mathematics and physics approach to structural design and it is also easier to find work and secure a job as an engineer. Simply put, an architect draws out what to build and an engineer figures out how to build it.

After being in the major for almost two years now, I have become even more interested in what a civil engineer can do. It is one of the most broad fields of engineering and there are a many different things that a civil engineer can work with, such as structures, water systems and water quality, foundations, geotechnics, traffic, wind engineering, concrete design, and more. Initially, I was interested in structural engineering at the start of college, but after being in the major for a while, I have gained a newfound interest in geotechnical engineering and I would not be surprised if I end up doing geotechnical work as a professional engineer after graduating from CSU.