Skip to main content

Alumni Spotlight: Mawadda Almasri

Mawadda Almasri graduated from NC State in 2020 with a B.S. in Sustainable Materials & Technology and a minor in Environmental Science. We caught up with Mawadda to hear about her undergraduate experience and advice for future students.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, where my dad is from, until 2012, when my family decided to move to the US. We came to North Carolina because my mom is from NC, and we wanted to stay with my grandmother, who lived in Carteret County. After graduating high school, I went to Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC, and then later transferred to Wake Tech Community College when my family moved to Raleigh. I learned about Sustainable Materials and Technology from my advisor at Wake Tech. I was certain it was the perfect major for me, so I applied to the SMT program in the College of Natural Resources at NC State. I started at NC State in 2018 as a junior, but I had already completed three years of college at that point. I was excited to finally delve into my major-specific classes and explore possible career paths in the world of SMT. 

Why did you choose to major in Sustainable Materials & Technology (SMT)?

I chose SMT because I wanted to make a real difference in shaping the future. I know that sounds corny and cliché, but it’s true, and I felt SMT was the best way to make that happen. I also chose SMT because I realized that it would focus on the “how” and “why” of systems, processes, and product production. Understanding how and why processes, systems, and products are developed helps discover ways to improve them and make them more sustainable. SMT focuses on all three aspects of sustainability (social, economic, environmental), which provides students with a more holistic view of the world and a better understanding of why things are the way they are. Overall, it offers students a strong knowledge base to guide them on creating a more sustainable world better. 

What has been the biggest obstacle for you thus far?

Figuring out how to balance schoolwork, work, personal health, and social life. I think this is something that every college student struggles with, and I think it takes patience and discipline to get the right formula. You might get it right or not…or you might spend your entire college career trying to get it right with it constantly fluctuating where some days you get it, and some days you don’t, and that’s okay. I’ve learned to accept that it’s not easy to do it all and that I have to prioritize what is most important to me to attain my goals.

How do you relax and destress?

Before COVID-19, I would typically watch TV or go out with friends. Now, however, since both work and school are online, I don’t want to spend my relaxation time staring at a screen, and I don’t have the option of spending time with friends in the same way. So, now I’ve started going outdoors more, doing art, and playing board games with my family to take a mental break. If I opt to spend time with friends, we usually go on hikes or meet at a park for a socially-distanced lunch! 

What advice would you offer an incoming first-year student?

Get involved with something related to your major! That’s not to say you can’t join other clubs and organizations that are unrelated to your major but make it a priority to be a part of something within your degree program. I say this because I think being involved in projects, programs, and events related to your major helps you build a stronger connection with the people in your field of study. They have classes with you, similar interests and goals as you, and possibly similar career ambitions; therefore, creating a close-knit community with your peers will not only make you love your major even more and help you create lifelong friendships, but it will provide you with opportunities and connections within your field. This is one of my biggest regrets when looking back at my time at NC State.

I joined the Herpetology Club and Club Tennis on campus. Still, neither of these clubs was related to Sustainable Materials, and therefore, I didn’t become close with my peers and did not gain the out-of-class experiences in the field that I otherwise could have. I wish I had joined Zero Waste Wolves or The Sustainability Stewards when I first started at NC State to build relationships and gain more experience.