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Brother’s Illness Sparks Pursuit of Power for Electrical Engineering Student
- Major: Electrical Engineering
“ I’m going to try my best and hopefully reach my goal and prove to my family that their hard work and coming here was worth it. ”
Katya Casasola’s little brother was very, very sick.
As she sat with him in his hospital room, her fears started to get the best of her. Machines were keeping him alive, but what would happen if the power went off?
“When I lived in Mexico the power went off all the time,” she says.
Her brother recovered, but Casasola’s thoughts remained fixed on the topic. She wondered, could she do something to make sure power outages don’t happen?
It’s a question that has led Casasola, who recently finished her first year as an electrical engineering student, toward a career.
“I got interested in the power system because we survive on power and electricity,” she says. “I really want to work in the power industry.”
Her interest in power systems may have started with her brother’s illness, but it was preceded by a general interest in math and science that stretched back to her early childhood.
When she was young, her father accepted a job in Mexico and brought the entire family with him. It was a hard adjustment for Casasola, at least academically.
“I didn’t know how to read Spanish at that time, so I had to stay back a grade,” she says.
But one thing hadn’t changed in school: Math was still math and Casasola began excelling at it. Even though she hardly spoke their language, her classmates began coming to her for help with their math assignments.
A year later she went through another transition when her family moved back to the United States.
“When I came back from Mexico, I didn’t know how to write in English,” she says. “Even simple words, I couldn’t spell.”
Once again, she found refuge in mathematics. “I tried to relate English to math and make it into a formula,” she says.
By the time she reached high school, she had developed a deep love of science and engineering. And during physics class, she found that what she “understood the most was the electricity.”
Casasola still has several years left before she graduates from Cal Poly Pomona, but she’s absolutely certain she wants to work in the power industry, whether it’s for an electrical utility such as Southern California Edison or for an energy company like Chevron. She hopes to explore alternative sources of power and improve existing technologies.
More fundamentally, though, what she wants is to make her parents proud.
“My mom has always told me the value of getting an education to improve your life,” Casasola says. “I’m going to try my best and hopefully reach my goal and prove to my family that their hard work and coming here was worth it.”