Little did Carol Menassa know what she was in for when she made the 6,200-mile trip from Beirut, Lebanon to Champaign-Urbana in pursuit of her third and fourth academic degrees.
“The town was draped in snow and the temperatures were beyond ‘reasonably’ cold — very chilly for a girl who grew up on the Mediterranean,” says the University of Michigan associate professor, who went on to earn her master’s in finance and Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering at Illinois.
“My first memory is walking into Moonstruck Chocolate Café on Green Street and getting a heart-warming peppermint hot chocolate. This was a visit I continued to do until the café closed.
“I have several fond memories of UIUC. My favorite place to chill and relax was the amazing Union. The comfy couches, warm fireplaces and cozy encounters with friends are imprinted in my memory.
“My favorite place to study was the Law School library. I can confidently say that I wrote my whole Ph.D. dissertation over many, many hours spent at the library ensconced in the all the law case books.
“Being a student at UIUC was a privilege because of all the great classes I could take from experts in the field and interactions with faculty beyond classes.
“My advisor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Professor Feniosky Pena-Mora, was a role model and mentor.
“The system dynamics classes I took with Professor Bruce Hannon from Geography had the greatest impact on my research and career. I still remember how Professor Hannon continuously challenged our models and understanding of the world they represent.
“Graduating from UIUC gave me the opportunity to pursue a successful career in academia.”