Finding the Right Balance

Jessica Howe rows a boat with her teammates.
Jessica Howe (center) and the Washington State women’s rowing team practice on the Snake River in Whitman County, WA.

Who: Jessica Howe

Hometown: Bothell, WA

Major: Double majoring in Civil Engineering and Ecosystem and Environmental Scinece

Sport: Rower, WSU Women’s Rowing Team

Graduation Date: May 2018

Jessica Howe, double majoring in Civil Engineering and Ecosystem and Environmental Science, and member of the Washington State women’s rowing team
Jessica Howe

Q: Why WSU?

Jessica: I grew up a Coug. My grandmother graduated from WSU in 1965 and I grew up watching the Apple Cup and coming out to eastern Washington with her. The first time I visited WSU I got all excited and happy and I knew then that I was home. I even stayed in Regents Hall my first year, which was the same dorm my grandmother lived in – so Pullman has kind of always held that special connection for me.

Q: How did you get interested in Ecosystem and Environmental Science?

Jessica: My passion to help the environment came from my seventh grade science teacher, John Schmied. This was my first experience with environmental issues our planet faces, and they really hit home with me. I began volunteering at hiking trail work parties and got really hooked helping with environmental projects in my community. By my senior year in high school, I knew I wanted to help the environment and I wanted to find a balance between the wants of humans and the needs of the environment.

Q: How did you get interested in Civil Engineering?

Jessica: Coming to WSU I knew I wanted to do something that would allow me to help improve the condition of the environment, so I was considering Environmental Science. My dad challenged me to try engineering because he felt it would be a good fit, and would be easier to switch to Environmental Science if I didn’t like it.

My first year was mostly civil engineering classes with a couple honors classes mixed in. I wanted more environmental aspects than what my courses offered, so the summer after my freshman year I took Intro to Environmental Engineering with Professor Yonge. I loved the material we covered – I hadn’t been more enthusiastic about an engineering class before. I finally started to think the engineering thing was for me, but I wanted more classes like this to supplement my traditional civil engineering classes. I started college with a few extra credits, and reevaluated things, and realized that a double degree would allow me to pursue a career in environmental engineering – working for both the people and the environment!

Q: How did you discover rowing?

Jessica: I’ve always been athletic. I played soccer, basketball and track up until my senior year in high school, when I tore my PCL. I wasn’t ready to quit playing sports, and I’m tall, so when my dad suggested I try rowing, I contacted WSU’s rowing coach and tried out. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed it!

Q: What’s it like rowing for WSU?

Jessica: Being part of the WSU Rowing Team has done nothing but help me through the last three years. Initially, it helped me make friends and find people with similar interests and drives as myself. I definitely struggle when it comes to being social and meeting new people – I tend to be shy especially at first.

Rowing provided me with a group of people with similar interests and an environment where I could be myself and slowly make friends as we competed and trained together. Rowing has allowed me to work through some tough times in my life, and has helped me become mentally tough and ready to take on most any challenge that life sends my way.

The team is like a family. I love being a part of this team and it has probably been a highlight of my college career thus far.

Q: How do you balance rowing with your classes?

Jessica: I tend to plan out what I’m going to do and I look at my week as a whole to determine what I need to get done and what is possible for me to get done. A busier schedule works better for me – it forces me to keep on top of my work!

Rowing has also taught me how to make the most of my time. I’ve learned to work anytime and anywhere. Because rowing takes a lot of time, my time for studying is sometimes limited and so I have learned to plan ahead, prioritize, stay on task, and work efficiently.

Q: What are your goals this year?

Jessica: As for rowing, we want to get all of our boats to the NCAA Grand Finals in May, and hopefully come home with a trophy!

In class, I want to continue learning the things I love and continue mastering the concepts rather than temporarily memorizing material.