How did you begin working at TRA? Who was your first client?
I started out at TRA as an intern after I graduated from Penn with my Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Transportation Civil Engineering Systems and immediately had begun work on my Master’s Degree. I learned about TRA from my best friend and roommate who had been working as an intern at TRA for the preceding year and told me about all of the fun work he was doing for transit clients around the country. His work seemed far more in line with what I wanted to do than what I was doing at my previous internships for an engineering firm.
Like many TRAers, my first client was PennDOT, and I helped perform compliance checks and audits of the rail transit systems in Pennsylvania. However, a memorable early client of mine was San Diego Trolley and San Diego Transit, where we performed comprehensive maintenance inspections and needs assessments and helped them with fleet life extension.
What do you like most about your job?
I love working in the transit industry because the people in it care so much about what they do. My job is gratifying in many ways because I believe we really make a difference in helping the people in the transit industry to provide safe and reliable service, which in turn helps millions of people get to work and school and family events. Our clients are hard working people who strive to meet the needs of their riders, and they often do so under various constraints. If we can help make their jobs a bit easier or more efficient, it makes me very happy.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Everything about food is important to me. I cook a lot, and I experiment in the kitchen a lot. I order esoteric ingredients online to see if I can actually cook them, but I’m also happy heating up a frozen pizza. I have a collection of cookbooks that spans generations, cultures, and cuisines. When I travel anywhere, I like to take cooking classes and make sure I eat whatever is unique to the place. I love local candies and junk food just as much as the traditional cuisines and all the awesome new trends. Happiness to me is a never-ending pile of food culture books, cooking magazines of all ages, chef memoirs, and anything else I can get my hands on that teaches me more about this important part of every culture… oh and something good to eat.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
I travel a lot for work, so it may or may not be surprising that I love to travel when I’m not at work, as well. Along with my interest in food, I like exploring new places and revisiting familiar ones. Living in New York City is great because my husband and I can easily travel the world by getting on the subway and exploring a new neighborhood, but it’s also great because we have easy access to many different places in the Northeast and flights that go pretty much everywhere, non-stop. I love visiting a new place and learning about the history and seeing the sites, but just as importantly, I like seeing ordinary life in a supermarket or in a hardware store or at a temple. People watching is one of the best parts of travel to different places.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Japan is at the top of my wish list right now. It has pretty much everything on my must-do list, from incredible trains of all kinds, to diverse cuisines across the nation, to bustling cities and stunning nature for hiking and getting away from it all.