Meet Marysol Luna ’20, the first Latina to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Cornell Read more about Marysol Luna '20, first Latina Ph.D. in mechanical engineering
Christine Catudal '11
- Hometown: Katy, Texas
- Chemical Engineering
Christine Catudal's uncle, William Boorujy '83 ME, M.Eng. '90, first brought her to Cornell when she was a junior in high school. "I walked around campus and I thought it was beautiful. It's what I always imagined a college campus would be," she says. "But I actually didn't think I'd be able to get in."
An admitted pessimist, Catudal was accepted. On her second visit to Cornell she fell in love with its small-town setting. "Everyone around you is a college student and you don't have the distractions of a major city," she says. "But because there's so many people from diverse places and cities, around the country and around the world, when you come here it doesn't feel like you're going to a rural place."
From a family of engineers, Catudal knew she wanted to study engineering, even if she doesn't become an engineer. "It doesn't box you in. A lot of people will go to med school or law school or get an MBA," she says. "At the same time, you get to have a degree after four years you can take into the work force, so grad school isn't required."
Catudal is glad to be at a university with a relatively large engineering school. "At other schools there aren't as many engineering students, but here a lot of the people you meet are going through the same curriculum as you," she says. "It's nice to have friends that are in the same boat."
While that boat must sometimes chart rough seas, Catudal says Cornell is there to lend a hand. "It's definitely a challenging school, but I think I would have been disappointed if it wasn't," she says. "At the same time, there are so many different resources that you can get help from."
A chemical engineering major, Catudal interned at Exxon- Mobil's chemical headquarters in Texas. "I always just loved math and science and I feel like chemical engineering really just brings them all together," she says. Catudal is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and organized its annual regional conference. She is currently running unopposed to represent the mid-Atlantic region in the newly formed SWE Senate. "It's really good for networking and meeting other people in engineering outside your discipline," she says. "Companies come and talk to us during meetings. There's a lot of focus on hiring women into engineering because they're less represented."
With her roommate, Catudal is taking an outdoor education class that brings her on short day hikes every Friday. "Where we went last week was just gorgeous—no pun intended," she says with a laugh. "You can get off campus and really appreciate how beautiful it is in the area." The academic environment at Cornell is nice too, says Catudal. "I thought people would be more competitive because the grading is competitive," she says. "Maybe it's just the chemical engineering, but we have this concept that we're all in this together so we like to help each other out.