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Gaby Rigaud recounts her experience as she wraps up a year of interning with Second Nature’s Advancing Green Building in Higher Education program. We’ll miss you, Gaby!

by Gaby Rigaud, Advancing Green Building Intern, Second Nature

Gaby Rigaud, Second Nature InternWe all have moments in our lives when we’re forced to adjust and make difficult decisions that we hope will change our lives for the best. One such moment for me came at the end of 2008. At that point, I had spent nearly four years working as a civil engineer at a Fortune 500 consulting firm in Boston, and I found myself at an impasse. Lacking both variety and a sense of purpose in my daily activities, feeling unsupported, I began to be unfulfilled in my professional life. My initial remedy was to go to graduate school to broaden my knowledge; I quickly found, though, that this would not be sufficient. I reevaluated the situation, asking myself the usual questions: “Where do I see myself in 5-10 years?” and “What am I passionate about?” This exercise resulted in a decision that most people who know and are close to me saw as irrational. My future was presented to me in a new light, and putting up new condo buildings and underground parking garages for the next 40 years was not part of it.

Thanks to my involvement with the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter at Tufts, I came to realize that my pleasure lies in problem solving and in using what I know to help others. I was reminded of the reason why I became a civil engineer in the first place. Yes, bridges and buildings are impressive landmarks, but my strongest interest was in the legacy that engineers leave and the impact they have in our world. Striving to make people’s lives better and providing them with the means to help themselves in a sustainable and efficient way is one unbeatable legacy (at least in my opinion).

With that in mind, I counted my pennies and resigned from my position. In my newfound free time, I decided to accelerate my work toward the Tufts engineering Masters program I had started in a part-time capacity back in 2007. I took the opportunity to enroll full-time in graduate courses. I also wanted to break away from the typical “engineering stuff,” stay active, and explore how I could apply my skills to the world of sustainability. I looked into LEED Accreditation, and studying for the exam led me to realize that I can accomplish more by training with a focus on sustainability and societal impact.

My journey led me to Second Nature on February 19, 2009.

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