Meet the WTS-OC

2018 Scholarship Winners


Back row, from left: WTS-OC Scholarship Committee member Birgitta Ongawan and scholarship winners Shaina Patel, Codi Weisz, Tara Esfahani, Tien Dang and Karina Schneider. Front row, from left: Scholarship winners Irene Martinez Josemaria, Paulina Mendez and Annaleigh Yahata, Scholarship Chair Katrina Wu, Scholarship Committee member Allison Jenney, and scholarship winners Sabrina Luo and Jamie Chang. Not pictured: Sara Siddiqui.

To encourage women pursuing careers in transportation, the Orange County chapter of WTS offers multiple graduate, undergraduate and high school scholarships to girls and women in Southern California. At the 2018 annual gala, WTS-OC awarded 11 scholarships totaling $51,500:

Watch the videos and read the bios below to learn more about the future female leaders in the transportation industry:

Graduate Students


Irene Martinez Josemaria

Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, Transportation Systems Engineering ● UC Irvine

Irene is in the second year of her Ph.D. program at UCI, and holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from UPC Barcelona Tech. Irene received second prize in the road category from the TRA Vision Award offered at the Young Researchers Competition by the European Union, as well as a variety of other honors for her research on sag and bottlenecks.


Her primary area of research is traffic flow theory and is working to extend her research in this area to provide management strategies for autonomous vehicles in order to improve traffic performance. Her goal is to become a consultant to public agencies such as Caltrans or SCAG to help advise those agencies on how to best implement traffic controls to improve traffic performance, or to develop an app that may assist with implementing traffic controls as autonomous vehicles begin to enter the market. 

Paulina Mendez

M.S. in Civil Engineering, Water Resources ●  Cal State Fullerton

Helene M. Overly Memorial Applicant 

Paulina is a current Master’s Degree candidate at CSU Fullerton. As an undergraduate, Paulina interned with Flatiron Construction, working on the Raymond Grade Separation Project in Fullerton. Working on that project made her sensitive to the changes she made to her own daily commute to deal with transportation challenges and was able to personally note the difference the grade separation project made to her commute.


After graduating, she became a full-time field engineer with Flatiron Construction, working on transportation infrastructure issues. Her ultimate goal is to work as an engineer for the County of Orange and to weave together the twin goals of better serving the county through improved transportation and water infrastructure planning and design. She intends to seek her Professional Engineer’s License within the next year and is actively involved with both the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Annaleigh Yahata

M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning, Transportation Policy and Planning ● UCLA

The Southern California Association of Governments co-sponsored this scholarship

Annaleigh is currently in her first year of graduate study at UCLA, and holds two Bachelor’s Degrees in Urban Studies and Geography from UC Berkeley. She received the Departmental Cartography Award for the class of 2015 from UC Berkeley. She produced original maps on the export and visitor economies of Singapore for one of her final projects, and a map on affordable housing along the International Boulevard Corridor in Oakland for the other.


Annaleigh is fascinated by the form of cities, how they develop, and the variability of access based on physical and political boundaries. She recognizes the similarities between the flows, connections and movement through a city to the physical artistry she has cultivated through years of competitive figure skating. Annaleigh sees transit systems as structured and choreographed ballets, while personal vehicles are improvised and freeform modern pieces.


Prior to graduate study, she served as an assistant transportation planner at LSA in Irvine. In addition to growing up in Orange County, she is deeply rooted to the area through her volunteer work with American Family Housing, where she assisted in the planning and construction of Potter’s Lane, a 16-unit housing project for homeless veterans. 

Karina Schneider

M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning ● UCLA

Leadership Legacy Applicant

Karina is in the second year of her Master’s Degree program at UCLA.


After attending the WTS-OC 2017 Transportation Academy, she was inspired to concentrate her Urban and Regional Planning studies in Transportation Policy and Planning. She was also inspired to seek out internships in the transportation industry, currently with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and previously with the Oakland Department of Transportation. She is also one of the founding members, and the current Steering Committee Co-Chair, of Urban Planning Woman of Color Collective at UCLA – a coalition committed to uplifting female students of color in the urban planning field.


Karina has had the privilege of working on demand-based parking models for the city of Oakland, and looks forward to completing her degree with a client project in partnership with LADOT. Over the next year, Karina will be researching the relationship between new mobility options designed to solve the last-mile problem and equity for LADOT. 

Undergraduate Students


Tien Dang

B.S. in Civil Engineering, Transportation Engineering ● Cal Poly Pomona

Jacobs sponsored this scholarship

Tien is a Civil Engineering major at Cal Poly Pomona and is currently serving as an intern at OCTA. She is involved with the WTS Inland Empire student chapter, Riverside/San Bernardino Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.


Prior to interning at OCTA, she worked in the City of Commerce Department of Public Works and WKE, Inc. Her career goal is to help improve roadway networks to better meet the region’s demand, and those neighboring it as well. She plans to pursue a career in transportation, where she can implement her ideas and take on the challenge of improving infrastructure grade for years to come. She hopes to use her experiences to give back to those willing to learn and willing to take advantage of the great community we have as civil engineers. 

Shaina Patel

B.S. in Civil Engineering, Transportation ●  UCLA

VCS Environmental sponsored this scholarship

Shaina is from Orange County and is currently a Civil Engineering major at UCLA. As an intern with Advanced Civil Technologies, she exemplified her drive and determination toward transportation in every engineering assignment.


In the future, she aspires to own a civil engineering company that provides services worldwide. Her goal is to help build secure bridges and infrastructure that can sustain both heavy traffic, as well as a variety of natural disasters, in addition to helping retrofit historic bridges to make them safer, while retaining their historical appearance. She is an active member of UCLA’s chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers.  

Sara Siddiqui

B.S. in Civil Engineering and Information Technology ● UC Berkeley

Sara is a Civil Engineering and Information Technology major at UC Berkeley.


Recognizing the critical dilemma of a lack of periodic, fiscal and compliance audits, and reimbursements leading to federal and state transportation projects not being approved, she aspires to establish a platform to provide a safer, greener and cleaner way to store and send off project documentation for the transportation and public works industry. In the classroom, she aims to understand the broader underlying mathematical concepts presented before her. Outside of the classroom, she is as passionate about helping others in her community and has supported in various charitable and volunteer activities. 

Codi Weisz

B.S. in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering ● USC

Louise Mortiz Molitoris Leadership Applicant

Codi is a Civil Engineering major at USC. She attended the WTS-OC Transportation Academy and was influenced by the Port of Long Beach’s proactive approach in making the port as green and efficient as possible. Her goal is to join a company where she will be able to make a positive impact on the environment and in people’s daily lives.


In high school, she was one of the six ambassadors to represent the city of Temple City at the foreign ambassador program with Hawkesbury, Australia. In addition, she founded an organization called Helping Hands, which generated funds and awareness for The Pregnancy Help Center, The Humane Society and WINGS, a shelter for abused women and children.  She would like to improve the transportation environment in Orange County and make it one of the most ideal areas in the world to live. 

High School Students


Jamie Chang

Physics ● Oxford Academy

TY LIN sponsored this scholarship

Jamie is a senior at Oxford Academy in Cypress. After being inspired by Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, Jamie wants to join the constantly evolving world of technology and help society to be able to explore the world in a better and faster way.


Jamie plans to get a bachelor’s degree in physics. She has participated in many different projects and organizations, including WTS-OC’s Girls’ Engineering Day, where she got inspired to publish an article about her experience for the METRANS Transportation Center for USC and CSULB. 

Tara Esfahani

Aerospace Engineering ●  Northwood High School

LSA co-sponsored this scholarship

Tara is a senior at Northwood High School in Irvine. She knows the importance of transportation in all aspects and wants to become an aerospace engineer.


As an aerospace engineer, she hopes to revolutionize air travel to make it more affordable, safe, faster and environmentally-efficient, while giving people the best experience. Tara gave a presentation on the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II at Boeing, where she received a challenge coin from Boeing for representing women in aviation – an award generally reserved for military personnel. 

Sabrina Luo

Engineering ● Cypress High School

Sabrina is a senior at Cypress High School in Cypress. Although her passion is art and design, she wants to be challenged not only artistically, but logically. She has excelled in both her AP Physics and Introduction to Engineering courses, showcasing her curiosity in the subjects by questioning the problems’ underlying principles.


Following in her father’s footsteps, Sabrina wants to become an engineer and is considering applying to UCLA and UCSD. During her junior year, Sabrina decided to volunteer as a secretary for the UNICEF club, Key Club and more recently as the vice president of the Raising Student Voice and Participation Club, always taking leadership positions, while helping those around her.