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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

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. 

Irene Martinez Josemaria: 2018 WTS-OC Scholarship Winner
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