Former NTC Grad Brought Back for UNL Native American Heritage Month

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln reached out to former Civil Engineering Master’s student Sydney Allen to discuss her history as a student researcher at the Nebraska Transportation Center and how she makes an impact in Native American communities on and off campus.

As a registered member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Sydney has always planned on using her engineering knowledge to make a difference in her community. In the conversation piece, a weekly student-written series on UNL’s Medium page, Sydney was asked a series of questions about her background, education, accomplishments, and inspirations.

While a graduate student at the Mid-America Transportation Center, Sydney did her thesis research on safety associated with the transportation of hazardous material through rural areas and areas home to Native American reservations. This research funded by the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship aimed to bring attention to the need for resources and transportation safety in these areas where an average of two Native Americans are killed in motor vehicle crashes every day.

Sydney also elaborated on the outreach she did as a student. She participated as a mentor in MATC’s Roads, Rails, and Race Cars after school program for middle school students from the Winnebago and Omaha Reservations, as well as the Native Youth Summer Leadership Academy for High Schoolers. She was a panelist in MATC’s Tribal Colleges and Universities Scholar’s program, sharing her experience and encouraging students to continue to a higher education in order to give back to their Native communities. Through these programs she was able to “give insights into what got me through my moments of self-doubt – because every student has had or will have those moments.”

Since graduating, Sydney has worked as a crash reconstructionist at Nebraska Accident Reconstruction, but she hopes to someday teach at a tribal college. There, she can give students a strong base in STEM subjects and raise their confidence levels to bring a unique perspective and put more Native people in a position to share their perspective and be heard. She encourages students who want to make an impact to “get involved with people who have goals that inspire you.”

Original interview:

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