In 2014, Taylor Edmonds earned a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering (MSEE). Now, she builds bridges.
Some of the bridges are metaphorical ones, mind you – such as the one between a Guatemalan community in need and American organizations that get things done. As director of the engineering projects department for Asociación Civil La Libertad ALAS, Edmonds spent two-and-a-half years in Guatemala, much of it seeking out projects that would bring sustainable engineering solutions to rural Guatemalans’ water, sanitation, hygiene, education and health needs.
Edmonds volunteered with Engineers Without Borders throughout her school years, including a week on an assessment trip in Guatemala. She loved it so much that she returned two months later to work alongside volunteers from other nonprofits.
Her job was to visit the 38 villages near her rural dwelling and determine, with community members, public health projects that would make lives better. So far, she has worked with Engineers Without Borders on a project to bring potable water to more than 300 members of the community of Calante, who walk more than an hour to collect water during dry season.
With a group called Bridges to Prosperity, Edmonds works to build pedestrian bridges that allow villagers to cross flooded rivers during rainy season. Currently, community workers must walk up to two hours to reach their fields or take cattle to market. Edmonds also partners with two Rotary clubs to build and improve rural schools.
“I was in Guatemala for a week as a volunteer, and I couldn’t get the place or people out of my head,” she shares. “It completely changed my life.”
Working on her thesis project prepared her for this kind of work, she says, because it forced her to look at problems differently.
“The strategy and process I learned in doing the thesis,” Edmonds says, “helped me figure out what to do, how to do it and who to partner with along the way, all of which I need in my work now.”