Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1994 Scholar Angelique Diaz

Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1994 Scholar Angelique Diaz

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. 

Angelique Diaz visits the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, N.M., where radioactive waste is stored over 2000 feet underground.

Scholar Year: 1994
Hometown: Denver
College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Colorado School of Mines – B.S. Chemical and Petroleum Refining Engineering (1998), M.S. Environmental Science and Engineering (2003), Ph.D. Environmental Science and Engineering (2008)

Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?

I am currently an Environmental Engineer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I’ve been with the EPA since June 2008, and since that time my work has involved managing the program that regulates radioactive emissions from uranium recovery facilities, participating on national rulemakings, and leading interdisciplinary teams in the review of Environmental Impact Statements. My favorite aspect of working as an environmental engineer at the EPA is the opportunity to work across disciplines and programs to achieve the EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment.

What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?

Being a Boettcher Scholar, I am connected to the Boettcher Foundation and participate on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. Participation on this board has allowed me to interact with the Boettcher Family in various ways. With each interaction, I am in awe of the amazing things that Boettcher Scholars are doing throughout the world. I am inspired to  give more of myself in all that I do and to use my talents to give back to the people of Colorado, a state that my family has been a part of since it was a territory.

Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.

Outside of work I volunteer as often as I can to ignite a passion for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in girls and Latino youth. My volunteer work has involved conducting mock interviews, giving resume workshops, and participating as a panelist to share my experience as a STEM professional. I have been a member of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni board for the last two and half years. I teach Sunday School, am a Girl Scout troop leader, and help however I can at my daughter’s school.

What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field?

I recently heard someone say that if you aren’t failing you are not learning. As someone that is risk-averse and does all I can not to fail, this resonated with me. I reflected on the times that I was unsuccessful (i.e., I failed…gulp) and the lessons I learned from those experiences. I realized that failures and setbacks are part of life and contribute to our growth and successes further down the road. My advice for all graduates is to be resilient and not to get discouraged when life has plans that differ from those you made for yourself.

If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?

If I could have dinner with any historical figures, it would be Nobel Prize winners Marie Curie and her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie. I would hear about their experiences as scientists, mothers, and pioneers in physics and chemistry. I would ask how their expectations for the application of their discoveries compare to how radiation is applied today and how it has been throughout history. I would learn about their relationship and glean some parenting advice and inspiration from their experiences. I would of course do all of this with the proper shielding, since the Curie women were undoubtedly radioactive.

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