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Ain't No Mountain High Enough

When she is rock climbing, Cloelle Sausville-Giddings '04 is studying the routes, the sequence of movements, that will get her smoothly across the face of a rock wall. The sport is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. And when she's climbed through the crux of the chosen route, the hardest part, the Vermont native feels clearheaded and accomplished.

Sausville-Giddings, who transferred to Smith after studying for two years at the University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematics, started rock climbing about the same time she decided to become an engineer. Her life revolves around the challenges of both, she says.

Like climbing, engineering is rigorous and demanding. Both call for developing agile problem-solving skills and the ability to collaborate with others. "Engineering can be very stressful," says Sausville-Giddings, who as a Ford Scholar received this year a full-tuition scholarship and a laptop computer. "But there's something about being in the company of bright, driven women -- it makes a person want to maintain a certain standard. It makes a good dynamic."

When she was considering a transfer, Sausville-Giddings says the idea of joining a pioneering program offering an all-women's engineering education intrigued her. She wanted a small program, small classes and the chance to work closely with her professors. "My professors are all brilliant," insists Sausville-Giddings, who comes from a long line of physicians. "The whole engineering program has definitely lived up to my expectations."

Just a few weeks ago, Sausville-Giddings got word that she had received a highly competitive fellowship from the National Science Foundation to continue her engineering studies. This fall, she starts advanced study at Cornell University in environmental engineering specializing in water resources, a reflection of her keen sense of social responsibility and desire to create solutions to the problems of natural systems and contaminated environments. "I feel very strongly about contributing to the environment, and engineering -- taking science and applying it to the problems of humanity -- is a unique way to do that."

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