Engineering His Childhood Career Dream
When young Jorge Duarte was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, “a police officer” would be his reply. “That’s what the other kids always said, so I said it, too,” admits Jorge. In reality, he had a different dream.
Growing up in Peru where he saw ongoing construction, Jorge was fascinated when rundown areas were demolished and replaced by new and beautiful buildings. “I told my father I wanted to do that, and he said that I would need to become either an architect or a civil engineer.”
Last December, Jorge graduated with high honors and his Associate in Science in Engineering Science Degree. He transferred to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) where he is a junior, in the honors program, and working toward a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering.
“I had a good first semester at NJIT,” says Jorge. “Some classes were hard, but I felt well prepared by PCCC.” He is also grateful to the PCCC professors who wrote “very personal and in-depth letters of recommendation” for Jorge to be admitted to NJIT’s competitive honors program.
It was less than four years ago that Jorge came to the U.S. with his family. He already knew some English when he enrolled at PCCC and advanced his skills in the ESL program at the College.
A high achieving student, Jorge was accepted into both the Honors Program and the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society and even worked as a tutor. “Seeing the improvement of students I tutored was very gratifying.”
Jorge was also recipient of a scholarship from the College’s 500 Stories campaign. “That really helped reduce some financial stress and gave me one less thing to worry about,” he said. “Students should not have to worry about money and working. They should be able to focus all their attention on their studies.”
Currently, Jorge has that opportunity. Encouraged by a STEM advisor at PCCC, he applied and was selected for a 10-week summer research project at NJIT where, under the supervision of a mentor, Jorge is studying samples from Branch Brook Lake and the Passaic River to prepare a report on the water quality of both bodies of water and classify them based on standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.
The project will include a future presentation and possible publication of the findings. Additionally, Jorge receives room and board at the NJIT campus and a stipend. “Undergraduate research opportunities are hard to come by,” said Jorge. “If you get the chance, grab it.”
His current research project is administered by the McNair Program through TRIO a federally funded initiative to provide the resources that can prepare students from disadvantaged or underrepresented communities for a future doctoral degree.
“I have the aspiration to study for a Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering, which is one of the branches of Civil Engineering,” says Jorge. He is intrigued by the possibility of improving the environment with more efficient traffic patterns.
“I hate traffic and road closures, and I have some ideas for improving those problems.”
The talented young engineer is likely to succeed and then take a detour himself. “I really enjoyed the tutoring I did,” says Jorge. “Maybe after the engineering, I’ll become a professor.”