Through the darkness to shine a light

Esmira Poladova

Brand-new NC State graduate Esmira Poladova's next steps include a job as a water resources engineer at a firm in Charlotte. Photo by Sarah Wright, TRIO.

Graduation often sparks reflection.

Students finishing college pause to think about the moments – exhilarating, challenging and everything in between – that led to that milestone.

As she leaves NC State with her B.S. in biological engineering, Esmira Poladova has more ups and downs to contemplate than most. She describes her five years since high school not as a journey – which sounds a tad too smooth and direct – but as a crazy adventure, or maybe a wild ride.

To become the first in her family to earn a degree, Poladova passed through dark tunnels, persevered and, as an NC State senior, even became an advocate for other underresourced students.

“Graduation’s a huge moment of achievement,” she said. “It means a lot when you’re the first and so much is riding on it, to be able to say you did it.

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