“Don’t let anyone tell you that you might not be as successful in this field because you don’t have ‘the right’ background. You can always get the background that you need. If you’re interested in it, do it!”-Raven Shilander
A senior at the University of Michigan, Raven chairs the Engineering Student Government’s Sustainability Committee and is very active in local sustainability efforts. She also served as the chemical lead for project team CO2BALT within GCISA, prior to becoming the organization’s president. Her other accomplishments include founding West Ottawa’s first-ever musical club and holding a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo.
You hold a Third Degree Blackbelt in Taekwondo. How has your martial arts background influenced you, if at all?
Yes, it has definitely influenced me! I’m proud of my martial arts accomplishments. I studied martial arts for 10 years back home in Holland, Michigan, at Championship Martial Arts, formerly Chan’s Martial Arts. Not only was it a great community to be a part of, but Taekwondo also taught me so many new skills and abilities. That sport pushed me physically and mentally because you have to do the same forms and techniques over and over with the same power and intensity. You push yourself to a level that you wouldn’t have thought you were capable of. It really does a great job building confidence when you land a particular kick or technique, or when you successfully beat your buddy in a sparring match. I gained a lot of good leadership skills from my experience with Taekwondo, because I was able to help some of the younger kids learn new techniques. My martial arts training helped me stay focused and determined throughout my studies as well, because Chemical Engineering is hard. It’s a hard field. I try to remind my friends of that fact, especially after difficult exams, “ You are taking one of the most difficult majors here at the University of Michigan, which is one of the most competitive and academically rigorous schools in the entire country.”