Carina Coles

CSUF Student Creates a Community to Succeed Academically

Monica Alarcon


Carina Coles

Carina Coles, a senior at California State University, Fullerton


​Carina Coles is a senior at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) majoring in Civil Engineering. She is excited about her final year in college. She enjoys her classes and is involved in campus life. Carina is ready to begin the next chapter of her life. She often reminisces about her time at CSUF and is grateful for the support from her family and college that has impacted her during her life. Her parents, Leonora Coles and Carlo Coles, and her brothers, Brandon, Tristen, and Bryan, have been a big part of her academic success.

As a high school student at Oxford Academy, Carina did well in her classes. However, she was not always interested in the sciences. In fact, she remembers having a passion for her art and performance classes and activities. While in high school, Carina thought she would eventually go to college and major in an arts field.

Her destiny in performing arts changed after she took a class in physics in 11th grade. She admits she struggled early but was able to have a positive breakthrough due to the support of her physics teacher, Mr. Justin Fournier. Carina describes his teaching style as very student-centered. Mr. Fournier helped her understand why physics is important and how it relates to the world she lives in. At the end of the course, she became incredibly interested in the sciences and decided to pursue a science degree in college. 

When she arrived at CSUF she decided to major in Civil Engineering. Today, she is very happy she made this choice as a freshman and is content with her campus environment. Yet, this was not always the case. She had to overcome many challenges at CSUF that led her to her happiness and the success she has today. 

As a freshman at CSUF, Carina struggled. In high school, she had built a community of friends and teachers that helped her succeed. When she transitioned to college, she felt alone and missed her friends and those in her support circle. In high school, she was very involved in her school's activities and she missed that aspect of her life. She knew that to succeed in college and be happy, she would need to build a new community of friends and that she would need to become more involved in campus activities. 

Carina wasted no time and began to become more active and involved on campus. She began to explore many student organizations that she could become a member in. In her freshman year she became a member of the CSUF Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WiCSE) program. In her sophomore year, she joined the Society of Women Engineers student chapter. Soon after, she joined the CSUF American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) student chapters.

Carina set out a goal to build a community on campus that would help her overcome the challenges she was going through. She surrounded herself with a community that would help support her academic goals. Being a part of these student organizations really inspired Carina to do her best and provided her the confidence to present her research. 

In Spring 2019, she participated in the Surveying competition at the Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) where her team won second place in the competition. She admits she enjoyed the experience more than she thought she would because she is naturally shy. The experience made her feel confident to do more similar activities. She went on to participate in the ITE campus research project and presented her work at the Edison STEM-NET student research conference in 2021 and at the Student Creative Activities and Research (SCAR) Days event at CSUF in May 2020.

Today, Carina is flourishing in her academics and has high hopes for her future. Last year, she applied to the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program and became a participant to learn more about graduate school opportunities. She knows she wants to pursue a graduate program and is beginning to explore those possibilities. Carina has decided to work first before attending graduate school because during the summer she took the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Civil exam and passed it. She now has a certification as an Engineer-in-Training. Her goal is to eventually become a licensed Professional Engineer.

For now, Carina is focusing on her last year at CSUF and wants to make her last year her best year.​

Carina Coles Contact Information: