This year, the American Council of Engineering Company (ACEC) awarded over $65,000 to exceptional graduate and undergraduate students whose work demonstrates their interest in California-specific issues. Hannah Dearman-So HM ’25 is among the recipients of this prestigious scholarship.
Dearman-So, an engineering major from Ventura, California, was shocked when she was notified of her achievement because the application seemed focused on students pursuing graduate degrees.
“I was doubtful, but I had shown a lot of interest in consulting engineering fields, so I thought maybe I had a chance,” she said.
Dearman-So said her practice writing other scholarship essays made her a competitive applicant for the scholarship, as well as reviewing her materials with people who helped her highlight important personal characteristics. She also said her scholarship reward will help pay for Harvey Mudd College tuition.
“I’m always on the hunt for scholarships,” Dearman-So said. “The 5Cs are very expensive.”
This summer, Dearman-So will be part of a team of five students at HMC doing industrial manufacturing engineering work as part of the Riggs Fellowship. They will serve as a consulting group and tackle specific problems for local manufacturing companies, such as improving production efficiency through inventory reduction.
“I am really excited about this program in particular, because you can do a lot of summer research and internships where you’re part of a more ongoing project, right? This summer, I really wanted something where I could start, finish and see my results,” she said.
Dearman-So shared that she has been interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for many years and chose HMC because of its collaborative environment and focus on integrating humanities into STEM curriculum. She added that although the classes and projects at HMC were difficult, they were rewarding. One highlight of her experience was building an underwater autonomous robot to measure for algal bloom conditions.
“Knowing that my education is not only making me more empowered but also making a broader positive social impact on my community and beyond is my favorite part,” Dearman-So said. “The Mudd mission statement is a bit cliché, but I’ve really come to resonate with it.”
Dearman-So says she’s in the “calibration phase” and doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do in the future. However, she envisions staying in the engineering world and hopes to pursue a career that is team-oriented and has a lasting impact.
Dearman-So is not afraid of some uncertainty, and she advised other students not to let their self-doubt stop them from pursuing opportunities.
“The worst they can say is no, and then you’re just back where you started,” she said. “It really doesn’t hurt to try, and it will surprise you a lot of the time.”