Civil Engineering Student Esme Nelson Receives Two National Scholarships

Esme Nelson ('24)

September 16, 2022
School of Engineering & Applied Science

A civil engineering junior's passion for improving living conditions in flood-prone areas earned her the Future Leaders Scholarship from a flood water management organization. Esme Nelson also studied water resource engineering in the Gonzaga in Delft program last summer through a second scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Foundation chooses only one student every other year to receive the Future Leaders Scholarship. Esme and past recipients plan careers in the water resources and flood management sectors; these professionals reduce the future risks and impacts of floods.

The financial award includes support from ASFPM in securing a paid summer internship related to water resources engineering. She will also receive financial assistance to attend conferences, learning from and networking with floodplain management professionals.

Flood Water Management in the Netherlands

Esme is the first student to use the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship on Gonzaga's Sustainable Cities program. The civil engineering course explores urban infrastructure in the Netherlands, including transportation, water management and coastal protection measures.

Esme completed the course with a presentation on safe, active transportation, which will be presented to the City of Spokane’s Sustainability Action Committee.

Through the Gilman program, the U.S. Department of State funds hundreds of students to study or intern abroad. Their goal is to provide students with skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity.

Q&A with Esme Nelson

What made you decide to study water resources engineering?

I think if you get deep enough into any material, it can pull you in. Fluid mechanics was my first "water resources" class, and I was intrigued by some of the modeling projects Dr. Sue Nezgoda shared during that class. Water seeps into almost all aspects of our lives and impacts almost all areas of civil engineering specialties.

What impressed you from the Netherlands experience?

Everything! Learning about, and actually experiencing, the way the Dutch approach sustainable systems was inspiring. The way they view climate change as an opportunity for innovation and not just an obstacle is something that has stayed with me.

What attracted you to Gonzaga University's Civil Engineering program?

One of the strongest draws for me was the reputation of the faculty. I heard so much positive feedback about Gonzaga's professors, and especially the civil engineering faculty. I also discovered the program in Delft before applying to Gonzaga, and it definitely influenced me positively towards GU, as study abroad opportunities are limited for transfer students.