Alumni Spotlight: Choolwe Mandona

Choolwe Mandona graduated from Miami University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering Summa Cum Laude and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, also graduating with a certificate in engineering for developing communities. Mandona is a practicing process engineer working in the water industry, with her primary focus being on water treatment which involves the design of water treatment systems that work to provide water in accordance with the set regulations.

In her spare time, Mandona is an avid reader and enjoys cooking, biking, exercising, traveling and spending time with God and her loved ones. She is also a health enthusiast who can typically be found cooking up food, at a farmers market buying vegetables and fruits, in a library or bookstore picking a recipe book or writing down a new recipe in her notebook. Mandona is also a food tourist that looks for inspiration from multiple cultures. 

Mandona appreciated the secluded nature of Miami’s Oxford campus during her time as a student. She enjoyed having barely any distractions from the outside world, as well as having the opportunity to engage and immerse herself fully into the college experience. 

Early on, Mandona met up with her advisor, Dr. Catherine Almquist, who mentored her throughout college and still keeps in touch with her to this day. Mandona still stays connected with her college friends as well.

Mandona thanks the African Student Union for helping her in transitioning from Zambia to Miami. In search for leadership and service opportunities, she signed up to be a SOUL (Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader), joined the executive board for the International Student Organization, and was a resident assistant for Munich Hall and Dorsey Hall. choolwe-alumni

Within engineering, Mandona joined Engineers Without Borders and worked on a project based in Ecuador that became her senior capstone and an inspiration for her to pursue a master’s degree program that focused on water quality and treatment. 

After graduating from Miami, Mandona immediately went on to pursue a Master of Science in Civil Engineering. Once she graduated from her studies, she took part in career fairs and went to conferences to network with people in order to find a job.

Mandona is currently working as a process engineer with Mott MacDonald-a design, management, and consulting engineering company. She has been primarily working in the drinking water sector, which focuses on the treatment of drinking water. Her job in this sector is to design systems that remove contaminants in the water that, without treatment, would make us sick. 

Mandona has also worked in the industrial wastewater treatment sector, working for mining, energy and manufacturing industries. Additionally, she has been involved in the 3D modeling of an existing municipal wastewater plant undergoing rehabilitation. 

 Having grown up in Lusaka, Zambia, Mandona had often tuned into the news and learned of people dying in the city because of a cholera outbreak, which was caused by drinking contaminated water or eating foods not properly washed with clean water.

“In my young mind, it was illogical to me that people would lose their loved ones to something that is preventable! If the water was clean, nobody would get sick, right? Over the years, this passion of mine continued to grow and, when I graduated from high school, I knew what I wanted to focus on - water,” Mandona said, excited to be doing what she loves and helping people at the same time.

Mandona’s favorite thing about her work is the people she works with and seeing results from her work. She has had the opportunity to meet so many people in the water industry who seem to share an inherent trait of service. 

“They have a desire to do a good job no matter what their role is-design engineer, operator, construction worker, technology vendor,” Mandona said about her co-workers. “Having a job that carries an aura of service makes me happy.”

When asked about advice she would give to current students for the future, Mandona recommended spending time to know yourself. The professional world has so many options to decide from and to start by discovering what you’re interested in, where you want to live, as knowing the answers to those questions will make the journey a bit smoother. She also recommends building connections while you’re in college, as they will serve you well in the future in more ways than you may think.

To see more about Mandona, see the most recent Instagram post on @cpbmiamioh.

By Gabby Benedict, CEC Reporter