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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May 2, 2002

Engineering a Caring Solution

Scholar hopes her skills will benefit people.

By Laurie Dawkins

Engineering was Marnie Williston's first love but her second career choice.

Originally from Hastings, East Sussex in England where she left high school after Grade 10, Williston came to Vancouver in 1994 and took on a series of jobs in social services, working with the elderly as well as women and children in crisis.

Williston enjoyed helping people, but craved more challenge, so she took the advice of a close friend and returned to school to pursue her passion for quantum chemistry and "fixing things."

Today those passions, and a lot of hard work, have earned the Chemical and Biological Engineer-ing/Honours Chemistry student the title of Wesbrook Scholar and nine other major scholarships. Williston, who graduates with a Bachelor of Applied Science, has served as president of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Student Club, acted as a keynote speaker for Engineers without Borders, and worked tirelessly to encourage other young people, men and women alike, to explore careers in engineering.

As a co-op student, Williston traveled more than 6,000 miles to become the first foreign employee of a Japanese cement company, where she acted as an intermediary to the United Nations. Another highlight was leading 200 people in an Japanese rendition of Rudolph the Reindeer at the company Christmas party.

Last spring, she trekked three days by bus to Houston, Texas to attend the world's largest oil and gas convention, to hand out resumes and UBC co-op brochures and get the "word on the street" about the best companies to work for after graduation. She set her sights on BP Canada Energy, and starts work as a plant engineer at their Medicine Hat, AB location this month.

Williston may still get to combine her first career with her second. Because BP operates extensively in developing countries, she hopes to work overseas and apply her engineering skills to benefit people who really need them.

At 28, Williston radiates enthusiasm, sincerity and above all, confidence.

"I've had so many opportunities, but the amazing thing is that I didn't have to look for them," she says. "I just had to be aware and always willing to say 'yes' at the right moment!".


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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