Civil engineering student honored with Sylvia Alston Graduate Scholarship


By Caitlin Gailey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Civil engineering Ph.D. candidate Kristin Kersavage has been granted the prestigious Sylvia Alston Graduate Scholarship by the WTS Pennsylvania section.

The award is in honor of Sylvia Alston, who dedicated her life's work to transportation and supporting women in the industry. She spent more than 20 years at Amtrak and eventually rose to be Officer of Supplier Diversity. Throughout her life, Alston made an extraordinary impact on WTS, including acting as chapter president from 1998 to 2000. The graduate scholarship was created in honor of the impact she made in the industry and her commitment to WTS.

Kersavage first heard about the scholarship through one of her professors in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

"I decided to apply because it was an organization that I hope to become more involved with and that I feel does great work helping and advancing women in the transportation field," said Kersavage.

The application process included two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, transcript and biography describing the applicant's background, schooling, degree focus, academic requirements and interest in the transportation industry.

Kersavage was notified that she won through an email from the scholarship chair of WTS Philadelphia.

"It meant a lot to me when I found out I had won the scholarship," said Kersavage. "I was a bit in shock, but I was excited and truly honored to be recognized for the hard work I've put into achieving my educational and career goals."

The scholarship consisted of a monetary prize as well as a certificate. Kersavage was also invited to the WTS Philadelphia 2017 Annual Awards in November where she, and other scholarship recipients, were honored for their accomplishments and received the awards.

Kersavage said that receiving this award will help her financially as she pursues her Ph.D. at Penn State. It also provides her with the opportunity to network with professionals in the transportation industry.


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Caitlin Gailey 

Jennifer Matthews 


Kristin Kersavage

"It was an organization that I hope to become more involved with and that I feel does great work helping and advancing women in the transportation field."



The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute is Penn State’s transportation research center. Since its founding in 1968, the Larson Institute has maintained a threefold mission of research, education, and service. The Institute brings together top faculty, world-class facilities and enterprising students from across the University in partnership with public and private stakeholders to address critical transportation-related problems.

Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

201 Transportation Research Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-865-1891