Bahnick to receive TE Connectivity Excellence in Engineering Award

June 26, 2018

 Out of a total 1800 applicants, Civil and Environmental Engineering junior Raychel Bahnick was one of twenty students awarded the TE Connectivity Excellence in Engineering Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to grant full-time engineering students from underrepresented backgrounds $5,000 in financial relief. In order to qualify, applicants have to demonstrate a number of strengths, from administrative details like their GPA, to an essay enumerating their interests in engineering.

It was initially a challenge for Bahnick. Made aware of the award through her connection and participation in the Society of Women Engineers, she passed on her opportunity last year, overwhelmed by her responsibilities in academia. This year, however, Bahnick felt emboldened to take a chance, and secured the letters of recommendation and materials required for application.

“This year I was more on the ball," said Bahnick. "I think that stops a lot of people, because the applicant pool is through SWE and that’s big, so you don’t think you’ll get it.”

Environmental Stewardship

Hailing from Owensboro, Kentucky, Bahnick grew up in an engineering household, as her father was an engineer. Encouraged by his experience, she decided to pursue her degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering as a platform to serve as a steward to her environment. Making the world a little healthier and better off in her wake is a priority that she has long fostered.

“I remember Pope Francis when he came along, I was in middle school or younger, and he was really into environmental causes. He made the point that it was part of the Catholic way to take care of the Earth,” said Bahnick. “In high school I started an environmental club, and we planted a tree that we called Pope Francis.”

It grew from there. Since high school, Bahnick has participated in the Sierra Club, and Watershed Watch, an organization that monitors waterways for intrusive substances, elements that might contaminate the biodiversity of the surrounding area. That passion led her to the Army Corps of Engineers, where she continues to work part time as a day-internship, helping resolve water related problems in the area that require her burgeoning engineering expertise.

Looking towards the future

Her interest in environmentalism is what led to her decision to join the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and her subsequent professional and extracurricular pursuits. Bahnick is overwhelmed at her success, and humbled by her recognition.

“’I’ve applied for a lot of scholarships and never gotten one,” she said. “It felt rewarding to be acknowledged.”

Bahnick will receive the award at the SWE National Convention in Minneapolis in October 18 to 20. An SWE Future Leader, her trip is paid for as part of her service, which includes her work with community outreach.