From Stevens to the Peace Corps: Engineering Management Grad to Teach Math in Liberia

3/11/2013

Just a few weeks after she graduates in May, Katie Quish '13 will fly to Liberia, where she'll spend the next two years teaching math and science to children for the Peace Corps. While there, she'll look back on her years at Stevens as a time of learning, exploration and personal growth.

Quish, 22, grew up in Hartford, Conn. Her father is a travel agent and her mother is a teacher. She is an only child. She attended high school at University High School of Science and Engineering, a reputable magnet school affiliated with the University of Hartford. She swam, played tennis and joined the school robotics club.

Quish wanted to attend a college where she could continue to pursue her lifelong interests in science and math. She had been touring colleges throughout the northeast when her uncle, a guidance counselor in New Jersey who used to live in Hoboken, suggested she look at Stevens.

“I fell in love with it instantly,” she said about her first visit to Stevens. “The location is great, and it's the right size school for me. Everyone is involved, and everyone knows everyone, which is great. There's a lot of support around because everyone knows who you are.”

Quish said she overcame the challenge of adapting to college and academic life during her freshman year.

“The first year was rough, and I wasn't ready for it,” she said. “But through repetition I got used to it. When you're involved with things on campus, which is easy to do at Stevens, then you learn that balance. You're always busy so you learn about managing your schoolwork and organizing everything.”

Quish will graduate with a degree in Engineering Management.

“It's still a degree in engineering, but more of the business world,” she said. “I like being able to talk to people and help them manage their projects.”

During her time at Stevens, Quish served on the Entertainment Committee and helped bring events to campus. She also worked in the community with the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, and served as vice president for the Stevens chapter of Habitat for Humanity and as treasurer of the Stevens chapter of the Society of Women Entrepreneurs. She spent her senior year spring break in Portland, Ore. building houses with other Habitat volunteers.

Quish also joined the Stevens Cooperative Education program, which helped her land two internships, first with the Louis Berger Group, an engineering firm in Morristown, and then with Hamilton Sundstrand, a subsidiary of aerospace company United Technologies Corporation. She worked for Hamilton Sundstrand out its offices in Connecticut and San Diego.

Quish credits one of her professors, Teresa Zigh, with encouraging her to join the Peace Corps. “She was really supportive,” Quish said. “I told her I really want to do the Peace Corps, but I was wondering if I should find a job instead, and she said no, go for it, it's something you want to do and it's in line with your career goals.”

Quish said she's excited about her opportunity to teach abroad, in a country that is recovering from civil war.

“They're really pushing for education over there, and the kids we'll be teaching will be the next generation who will be able to improve Liberia's economy and help them grow,” she said.

She said she's preparing for the change in lifestyle.

“I know it will be really different, going from having everything readily available all the time, to going somewhere where I might not have internet for a month,” she said. “I'm sure it's going to be hard, but it's something I really want to do.”

When she returns, Quish wants to find a job that blends her expertise and interest.

“I'd like to use my engineering and project management skills for international development, and help other countries that might not be as well off,” she said.

In her spare time, Quish enjoys practicing yoga, hanging out with friends, including her sorority sisters in Theta Phi Alpha, and exploring cities like New York, Boston and Washington.