Art and science are often considered polar opposites, and students can feel the pull to choose one or the other. Engineering or English? Computer science or art? Biology or music? However, employers today are increasingly seeking graduates with skill sets that blend the best of both worlds—the ability to interpret data and draw conclusions, to think and communicate creatively, to reason effectively, to work with others to solve problems, to make informed decisions.
Meet Marly Narcisse, a Walla Walla University student who is finding creative ways to combine her passion for areas of study that are stronger together.
Marly Narcisse fell in love with engineering during a field trip when her community college anatomy and physiology class visited the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
“There were different tables for dentists and nurses and doctors, but honestly I don’t remember anybody else. I just remember a lady at one table who was a biomedical engineer. I went home and searched engineering and then that was my love,” Narcisse says.
Narcisse was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist in Haiti and came to the United States after the 2010 earthquake. One day after that field trip, from her new home in Virginia, she Googled “Seventh-day Adventist engineering school” and “Walla Walla University came up as No. 1,” she says.
“I really wanted the spiritual life and to be where people would understand me. I’m a very outdoorsy person, and I saw ASWWU—the Associated Students of Walla Walla University—and I was like, ‘You get me!’” she says.
Narcisse’s primary career goal is to be a missionary.
“I do love engineering, but I’ve always wanted to be a missionary. The religion classes I’m taking are more for me, so that I can use the engineering for others. I always thought in order to be a missionary I had to be a doctor or a teacher or something like that. I discovered organizations like Engineers Without Borders, and I realized that instead of just being a missionary, I can be a humanitarian.”
She is specifically looking to use her background in engineering and religion to interact with farmers around the world in meaningful ways and to help them develop sustainable methods for farming.
“A lot of engineers are working to provide people with electricity and things like that,” she says, “but I feel like agriculture is also very important.”
Narcisse is discovering many benefits of combining STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) studies with classes in the humanities.
“I’m logical, and I like things like that. And then the other side helps me step outside and just do some thinking. When you learn about religion, it can help you understand why someone would think a certain way or do a certain thing,” she says.
What stands out most to Narcisse so far about her time at WWU is the teachers and the friends she has made, including through her cross-country team.
“We came to school a month and a half early and it was just us, so we had time to bond,” she says. “There are 10 of us. To me that’s the perfect group.”
With a diverse skill set that includes four languages (French, Creole, Spanish, and English), Narcisse is poised for a successful international career, but her goals are quite simple: “I just need a job where I can do good and help people,” she says.
Posted March 5, 2020.