At the end of each semester, I have the distinct honor of addressing and shaking hands with each of our amazing graduates during the engineering commencement ceremony. This spring’s event was no exception.
During the ceremony, two particular graduates caught my attention with their awe-inspiring stories. Sam Cerio, our superstar gymnast who earned SEC Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year honors for her sport, walked across the stage with the assistance of crutches and leg braces less than a month from a career-ending injury that caught the nation’s attention. Her grit and determination was never more evident, and her ear-to-ear smile showed it. The aerospace engineering graduate will now take her talents to Charleston, S.C., where she has accepted a position with Boeing.
Anna Wilson, who has defied the odds and overcome challenge after challenge for nearly her entire life, also crossed the stage at graduation. You may remember Anna from our Spring 2016 magazine, where she graced the cover along with her loving mother, Carla. As a young child, Anna was accidentally shot in the head, leaving her with quadriplegia. Since that day, her mother has been by her side and ensured she had the great life she deserves. Despite the injury, nothing has held Anna back. She ziplines, she scuba dives, she does it all. And now, she’s an Auburn engineer with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering who plans to pursue a graduate degree and work in the health care industry focusing on lean engineering. She is truly “a spirit that is not afraid.”
These are just a couple of the inspiring leaders of tomorrow. In this issue of Auburn Engineering magazine, you will also read about many more of our leaders both within the college and beyond. Pioneers such as Sam Ginn, whose generosity 20 years ago charted our upward trajectory and continues today through his gifts to kick off our Top 20 Initiative. Another leader, Joe Forehand, served as our inaugural Engineering Executive in Residence, sharing the many lessons he learned along the way to becoming chairman and CEO of Accenture, a Fortune 500 company.
You’ll also read about our dynamic faculty and students who are conducting leading research in areas such as cybersecurity, transportation and structural engineering, in addition to our outstanding initiatives and programs to promote diversity and inclusion within the college.
It’s these amazing engineers who are changing the world for the better, and it’s an exciting time to be a part of it as Auburn Engineering continues to advance our state, region, country and world.