CEE student embraces service learning

“I like the combination of service and learning,” said Sara Chergaoui, an exchange student from Morocco studying civil engineering at Virginia Tech this semester.

At home, Sara frequently participates in community service, often going to orphanages and schools to tutor children. This love for service led her to participate in the alternative spring break trip that traveled to Flint, Michigan with the Flint Water Study team. She was part of the group that collected samples in the same 300 houses that had previously been tested in August. While she was there, she also volunteered at a non-profit organization and had the opportunity to visit a middle school in the area.

While her home institution doesn’t offer civil engineering as a major, she is enrolled in general engineering, with a concentration in civil and environmental engineering. One day, she aspires to be an engineering professor.

She is currently taking Introduction to Environmental Engineering, Introduction to Transportation, Fluid Mechanics, and CEE Measurements. Her favorite class is CEE Measurements because she finds the labs interesting and challenging. While some students complain about the measurements class because it requires outdoor work during the cold winter months, Sara doesn’t mind. “I love snow,” she said and followed up with, “and I love the sun.”

She admits that the weather is similar to the town in Morocco where she studies. Other aspects of Blacksburg also remind her of home.  “Where I study, there is a large university which is a major part of the town, then there is a downtown area similar to Blacksburg,” she said. “But Virginia Tech is much larger than my home institution.”

While her academic studies have been an important part of Sara’s experience in Blacksburg, she has made time to immerse herself in the town as well. “I love the vegetarian restaurants in Blacksburg,” she said. “The food here is more tasty than the vegetarian restaurants near my home institution.”

Sara will return home to Morocco in May, but will always be a Hokie after her semester at Virginia Tech.