Creating a New Organization for Environmental Engineering

“Every summer, my mom, my younger sister, and I take road trips to unique places in the United States,” says Greta Vasiliauskaite. “At Glacier National Park, I saw a picture of how the glaciers looked about 50 years ago and then looked up and saw how the glaciers look now. I couldn't believe my eyes.”

Through this and other experiences learning about the impact of climate change on the environment, Greta decided to pursue a career that involved taking care of Earth. 

First, she attended the College of DuPage for two years, working night shifts at her job in addition to taking a full load of courses. 

“It was honestly the hardest time of my life,” says Greta. “I’m a student on DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], so it’s really hard for me to get funding for school. I’m ineligible for loans, federal grants, and FAFSA [federal student aid].”

Fortunately, Greta was selected for the competitive TheDream.US scholarship, which offers a two-year scholarship at partner universities such as Illinois Tech.  

“In my situation, only 5 to 10 percent of students are able to attend university, so I was really lucky,” says Greta.

Despite joining Illinois Tech in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greta has thrived. In spring 2021 she earned a $10,000 Scholarship America Dream Award, which helps cover education-related expenses, and she’s currently serving as the outreach chair for the Society of Women Engineers and as co-president of Engineers Without Borders.

As a student in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Greta is also the founder and president of a new Illinois Tech student organization, Society for Environmental Engineers and Scientists. 

“We plan on having speaker events and field trips, and participating in design competitions,” says Greta. “I want to learn more about careers within environmental engineering, and creating this organization is a way to help other students and myself get more connections to professionals in the industry.”

In summer 2021, Greta interned at Weaver Consultants Group, where she worked at solid waste sites such as landfills, making sure that construction is up to code. 

On weekends she enjoys working as a student-teacher at Maironis Lithuanian School. She continues to visit national parks, forests, and historical landmarks, and hopes to one day work as an engineer at a national park. 

“My love for the environment and outdoors motivates me to want to learn more about ways to reduce and prevent pollution problems,” she says

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