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Female engineering student commits to helping her classmates

Most mornings, Cindy De Abreu Acevedo wakes up at 4:30 a.m. so she can work out and read her scriptures before her classes begin. Acevedo spends each weekday attending class, working remotely or completing homework. However, even with her early mornings and busy schedule, she is constantly “on call.”

Her phone rings. She answers. It’s her classmate, and he needs help with his homework. She quickly guides him to the answer to his question. They hang up, and she returns to her own homework. Several minutes later, the phone rings again. This time, a different friend asks for help with a project. This is a normal day for Acevedo. Her phone is always ready for anyone that may have a question about a homework assignment.

Acevedo is a junior studying civil engineering. Often, she is one of three girls in her classes of 30 students. Being female in a predominantly male major has its challenges, but Acevedo has learned to solve any problem she faces.

The United States is very different from Venezuela, where Acevedo grew up and her love for engineering blossomed.

“You know how most girls loved to play with dolls or makeup?” Acevedo asked. “Well, when I was little, I loved my Legos. I loved everything about construction and how you could make something out of nothing.”

Acevedo’s love for construction continued to grow throughout her schooling, but it wasn’t until high school that she realized she had the mind for math.

“I didn’t know this before, but in high school, I found out that I’m very good at math,” said Acevedo. “That was rare, at the time, that a girl was the first one in the class in math. I won math tournaments and everything back home. It was really surprising for people.”

Acevedo continued to surprise her classmates and teachers with her talent for math, but she knew her capabilities and carried big dreams with her.

Civil Engineering students working on projects in their Elementary Soil Mechanics class.
Civil Engineering students working on projects in their Elementary Soil Mechanics class. Photo credit: Rachel Schoeny

When she was 18, Acevedo attained a visa to come to the United States. Not yet a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she left her family in Venezuela to study at the English Language Center in Provo, Utah.

“I was the only one out of 300 people that week that they accepted the visa to come to America,” said Acevedo. “It’s pretty much a miracle.”

It was while at the English Language Center that Acevedo was baptized as a member of the Church.

“I was able to go to Utah… and that’s where I met the Church,” said Acevedo. “So, if you connect all the dots, God really wanted me to go to school to learn English so that I could meet the Church and be baptized in His Church.”

After learning English and being baptized, Cindy decided to move to Rexburg and begin her studies in civil engineering. This was not her original plan, but Acevedo knew God led her to BYU-Idaho and the civil engineering major.

“Living in Venezuela is very sad, and it’s not as good as it could be,” said Acevedo. “When I was there, I just got inspired in a way that I could maybe change this. That gave me the motivation to strengthen my skills now so that I will be able to help one day.”

This is the way Acevedo lives her life — with others in mind. Every day, Acevedo keeps the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson close.

“I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder,” said President Nelson in a worldwide devotional to young adults.

Acevedo shared that she knows God has been there to help her every step of the way. She also encourages other women to consider engineering as a major, imploring them not to fear, but to trust their own ability and God’s.

“You should never care about someone else’s expectations of you,” said Acevedo. “Whether they expect more or less than what you can do, what matters is what you think about yourself. … We’re all so smart and gifted. If you have a goal, and you work hard, and you just keep yourself motivated, there shouldn’t be anything that could stop you.”

Female engineering students at a competition. Photo credit: Cindy De Abreu
Female engineering students at a competition. Photo credit: Cindy De Abreu

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