‘Twin’ degrees fuel engineering career

After applying to a number of universities across the United States, Nazirah Mohd decided to attend KU for the great research programs, friendly atmosphere and the iconic Jayhawk mascot. Mohd, currently a sophomore, spent her freshman year at an international college in her home country of Malaysia before coming to KU as a petroleum engineering major and geology minor.

“The reason I chose petroleum engineering as my major and geology as my minor is because they’re like a twin,” Mohd said. “Having a minor in geology will really help me to distinguish myself from other candidates.”

The range of subjects and balance between engineering and liberal arts courses has contributed to her success, Mohd said. When she was growing up, Mohd had a passion for geology and a love of art. In high school, she created sketches for an interior design portfolio and produced canvas paintings of landscapes and natural scenery. While she doesn’t have much time for artwork during the semester, Mohd said, the variety of her course schedule helps her look at problems in new ways.

“Having a major in engineering and a minor in liberal arts really help me to balance my brain and the way I think,” she said. “I cannot do mathematics questions every day. My brain needs variations of subjects.”

Although Mohd has been studying elements of geology in other classes, she began taking specific geology courses this year. “I’ve been exposing myself to the geology world since two years ago, so I think it is really fun to be able to officially learn about the science of Earth in class.”

Coming to KU has also helped Mohd develop her confidence and leadership skills. Attending college in the United States was a different experience from her previous college.

“KU has taught me a lot about leadership skills and has boosted my confidence to a higher level,” Mohd said. “My favorite KU memory is being one of the proud Jayhawks that tells other people about how KU had changed my life and helping the new international students as an International Leadership Team member.”

Attending a university thousands of miles from home and majoring in a field where women are traditionally the minority was initially daunting, Mohd said. However, she is now grateful for her experience and the skills she’s learned from living independently. Plus, Mohd said the biggest perk of attending college abroad is that feeling of winning her playful sibling rivalry. Because her parents miss her, when she goes home she tends to get more attention than her other siblings.

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