Maria Christenbury can track her passion for engineering back to first grade and the stash of pens and notebooks that her father kept in the back of his car as part of his job in sales.
“I would take the pens apart and put them back together, and it would just drive my parents crazy because sometimes the spring would shoot out or something,” Christenbury recalled. “But I just loved figuring out how things worked and putting them together.”
Christenbury is now a rising senior majoring in mechanical engineering at Clemson University, where she has distinguished herself as an outstanding student and is helping others follow in her footsteps as one of the newest Jansen Family Emerging Scholars.
Maria is joining three other Jansen Scholars in organizing a series of events aimed at bringing together mechanical engineering students so that less experienced students can learn from those further along in the major.
They are working alongside Dr. Fadi Abdeljawad, who is the faculty advisor for the program and an assistant professor of mechanical engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Jansen Family Emerging Scholars launched in 2017 with the help of a generous donation from mechanical engineering alumnus Patrick Jansen and his wife, Carey.
As a Jansen Scholar, Maria will have the chance to help guide students just a couple years younger than she is, and it’s just the latest way she has enriched her Clemson experience. She is also a Grand Challenge Scholar, and she recently visited Paris as a Dixon Global Policy Scholar.
Maria has participated in research and volunteered for the college’s STEM outreach program Emag!ne. The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences honored her in the spring semester with the Samuel B. Earle Award in recognition of her scholarship and character.
“College is what you make it, and I’ve tried to dabble in a little bit of everything to figure out what my interests are,” Maria said. “I’m so grateful for all the opportunities Clemson has, so I would like to be able to share them with other people, too.”
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