Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering, Class of 2021
This wasn’t the spring that Mai Sinada, an ambitious junior, had envisioned. But this global pandemic was something no one could have expected. Ordinarily, as she finished her spring courses, Mai would prepare to attend summer school and work for the University while her classmates left for break. “What makes it different is knowing people didn’t choose to go home. You had to go home,” Mai says. No one could have predicted that life as we all knew it would be altered so drastically.
To keep her more vulnerable parents safe, Mai is unable to go home. Nearly 100 students are still living on campus and as Mai notes, “We don’t really get to see each other.” As a Community Facilitator, Mai reaches out virtually to residents and other students staying on campus. Despite these interactions, she admits feeling isolated at times.
Her academic goals are lofty as a civil, environmental, and sustainable engineering major taking five technical courses. A daunting undertaking normally, with remote learning and navigating unfamiliar computer programs, things are even more demanding. But Engineering with a Mission is what drew her to Santa Clara, and building something that impacts someone’s life is a challenge that has its own rewards. Mai is also a recipient of the Catala Club Endowed Scholarship Fund in memory of Emma Anderson. Appreciative of the opportunities provided by SCU and the Catala Club, Mai gained research experience last year while giving back by launching a project to help develop an adaptable robotic arm that makes it possible for farmers to harvest a range of different crops despite labor shortages.
Mai admits that even though she is doing well in a safe space, she is concerned for the future. A De Novo Fellow and treasurer for the National Society of Black Engineers, Mai has dealt with unexpected program cancellations this year. She has an internship over the summer, her first experience in the field, and fears it might not happen. Despite the uncertainty, Mai is forging forward and finding the silver lining in the temporary cloud we are all under. “I do think that in all of this, there's some positivity,” she reasons. “Just being physically away from one another prompts all of us to make genuine interactions utilizing platforms to actually show people that you appreciate them, whether you're with or without them.”
Humbled by donors’ generosity, Mai is especially grateful for the support she received through the SCU Student Emergency Assistance Fund. Having the security of knowing the necessary resources would be available for Mai to continue her Santa Clara education—including housing and computer equipment—makes her challenges more manageable. “I would first of all begin by thanking the donors, letting them know that while they didn't know exactly what was needed to help students, they still were generous enough to provide support,” she continues. “That's something many SCU students like me are very grateful for.”
In the next breath, Mai echoes one aspect of the Santa Clara principle of Cura Personalis, stating, “A lot of times people help others so much that they forget that they need to take care of themselves as well. I hope they do.” Let us all remember that in times like these, each of us has the power to be a blessing to others.
-Carrie Jensen and Sam Andalon