Donovan Dixson

Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering
Degree pursuing: BS in chemical engineering
Hometown: Florissant, Missouri

Why did you decide to study engineering?
I decided to study engineering because I wanted to develop a skillset and a knowledge of phenomena that can help me better understand the world and how I can contribute to its progress.

This same passion is what drives me to this day. Through the people I've met during my undergraduate education and the programs I've participated in, I've found a path for myself that is engineering focused, but also has complex social and personal layers.

Why did you pick WashU?
I picked WashU because it was the best choice I could make for where I wanted to be in the future. Being from North St. Louis County, I knew that WashU could elevate my opportunities and the impact that I could bring to my community. Through the Ervin Scholars and Civic Scholars programs, I've been able to realize this potential.

Furthering my education was one thing, but I also wanted to put myself on a path that demonstrated not only my abilities, but my character.

Who is your favorite instructor and why?
My favorite instructor that I've had this far has been Kevin Brennan for EnMath A and B. In addition to having the best sense of humor, Mr. B has been incredibly approachable, understanding, and flexible with coursework and the material in class.

What advice would you give to a new student?
Some of the best advice I've heard is about being authentic and transparent. Given the fact that we all come from diverse backgrounds and are equipped to handle situations very differently, there's no need to stress when you realize your WashU experience is going to be unique and individual.

Even if you take the same classes, join the same peer networks and are a part of the same study groups as others, the decisions you make need to be your own.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
My favorite thing about St. Louis is the community. I love where I'm from and I've grown to cherish and appreciate the things that I've found in college even more because of it. There are plenty of people in St. Louis doing things every day to make it a better and more exciting place. I'd advise anyone at WashU to do their best to really know what's out there.

What campus activities or groups would you recommend to a new student?
Starting with the Engineering school, the first group that I'd recommend for students is the WashU chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. I've been involved every year since I've been here, and I've grown so much socially, professionally and even academically because of it.

Secondly, I'd like to recommend that students pursue a more interdisciplinary and socially informed approach to their learning through the Gephardt Institute. They have several programs and opportunities for civic engagement and work experiences that enrich your experiences of standard classes.

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue my work and invest my passion into chemical and energy infrastructures that shape and contribute to the public domain and society at large. I will be open to new opportunities and engage with communities, professionals and whatever work brings me closer to that path that I will continue to walk.