She Has a Business, Three Children and a 4.0

Luz Angela Zidziunas is the Newark College of Engineering's Outstanding Senior.

Luz Angela Zidziunas is the top-ranked student in the senior class, with a perfect 4.0 GPA. But what’s more impressive about her is this: she’s also a mother of three children who, along with her husband, co-owns of an environmental consulting company.

How does she manage to juggle all that work -- domestic, academic and professional -- and still get a 4.0?

For one, she didn’t’ start her academic career at NJIT. Born in a small town in Colombia, she first attended a university there. She soon realized, though, that she wanted to attend an American University -- that was her dream. So she left Colombia for America and lived in New Jersey, where she worked for a few years while attending Hudson Community College. After earning her associate’s degree in Engineering Science, she enrolled at NJIT. Given her interest in structural design and environmental science, she majored in civil engineering.  She was fortunate, she says, to find great civil engineering professors at NJIT who encouraged her to pursue her passions.    

In her junior year, she applied to the Albert Dorman Honors College, which accepted her with a scholarship. She also became a member of the Chi Epsilon Honor Society for civil engineering, Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).  As a member of the NJIT Steel Bridge Team, she placed first in the Regional ASCE Steel Bridge Competition for presenting the team’s technical paper. And last month, the Newark College of Engineering (NCE) named her the Outstanding Senior in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Outside of school, she and her husband, Rhett, co-own Joseph Environmental, an environmental consulting firm in Newark. The firm, which focuses on remediation of hazardous material, has done environmental work for the City of Newark, removing lead paint from residential homes. The firm’s work has reduced the potential for lead poisoning in children. 

Luz Angela will graduate in May and was chosen by NCE to carry its gonfalon, a banner bearing the college shield, during NJIT’s graduation ceremony. Carrying the gonfalon is an annual honor given to a student who NCE feels most epitomizes its academic mission.  

After she graduates, she intends to enter a master’s degree program in civil engineering, with a focus on structural and environmental engineering.  Recently, Tau Beta Pi awarded her a fellowship for graduate school. The fellowship includes a scholarship that will help pay her tuition. In graduate school, she aims to design structures that are environmentally sustainable.  

“I want to do designs based on a sustainable approach,” says Luz Angela, “making sure that I choose cost-effective materials that also preserve the environment.” 

(By Robert Florida)