From Russia with love—of civil engineering

Engineering, Co-op

- Petranella Daviel

Kristina Frolova, UVic civil engineering alumna.

Kristina Frolova graduated this November with a degree in civil engineering, the same degree as her parents, uncles, aunts and grandmother earned.

"Civil engineering must be in my genes,” says the international student who came to Canada from Russia when she was 18. "I think it’s embedded in me in some way."

She was drawn to the field for the potential it offers to create community, tackle quality-of-life and green energy issues, and "being able to do something different," she explains. "I like the community around it. I like solving problems." In the future, she wants to create something significant that "will improve quality of life, or will bring life to a more 'green' stage, with use of minimum resources."

After studying English in Vancouver, she heard about UVic's new civil engineering program. "I saw great potential in it, and I wasn't wrong. We got to use the newest available equipment and were introduced to innovative aspects of the industry."

Despite a "very welcoming" atmosphere, Frolova’s transition to UVic wasn't easy. She struggled with with culture shock and self-doubt. Frolova credits her determination to finish her program to the support of her parents, to whom she's very grateful for giving her "this chance to study somewhere else." Although family friends will be taking her parents' place at convocation, Frolova knows they're with her, even if they're not physically here.

Speaking about the initial struggles and challenges she's faced, Frolova says, "I think everything comes on time and when exactly it’s needed for us."

This sparkling energy and positivity is evident in her outlook on her new life on the island. “Many people used to tell me that there is nothing to do in Victoria, but I think it depends how you look at it. I'm the kind of person that I can find something to do in an empty room." Especially since she has only been able to go home to see her family twice in seven years, feeling at home in her new city has given her a sense of belonging.

Hands-on learning leading to a career

A highly involved student, Frolova was a campus tour guide, co-treasurer of the UVic student chapter of the CSCE (Canadian Society for Civil Engineering), as well as a member of the UVic student chapter of the ACI (American Concrete Institute).

She also worked as a research assistant under the supervision of UVic associate professor Rishi Gupta, working on structural material development such as permeable pavements and rammed Earth pre-cast elements.

Her co-op placements involved the development of innovative traffic equipment and research in the area of new construction materials development.

The most important skills I obtained from my educational path were how to use available resources, how to manage among different tasks in the most efficient way, and how to expand the vision in the direction of new possibilities.
Kristina Frolova, civil engineering alumna

Frolova currently works at Envision Inc. as a civil engineer. With an arts diploma from Russia, she's able to combine her creative flair with her degree as she works on home designs, graphic design and videos for potential home owners. "That's what I was looking for and I was surprised that it just came to me." Her focus lately has been on modelling software.

Speaking just before her graduation, Frolova says that she almost "didn't realize that there was actually something I accomplished over these years." Her family and friends reminded her to celebrate, and that—especially as an international student—she really has made it a long way and has a lot to be proud of. "They convinced me," she laughs. And yes, she did celebrate.

Story by Petranella Daviel, an undergraduate student in UVic's writing program and a MyUVic Life blogger.


In this story

Keywords: international, student life, convocation, alumni, co-op, civil engineering

People: Rishi Gupta, Kristina Frolova

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