Skip to main content

CCEE Senior Gracie Hornsby awarded College of Engineering Faculty Senior Scholarship

This story is shared from Engineering Communications with an additional Q & A with Gracie Hornsby at the end of the article. 

The College of Engineering recently named civil engineering student and Goodnight Scholar Gracie Marie Hornsby as the 2019 Faculty Senior Scholarship recipient.

The Faculty Senior Scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time student who exemplifies academic excellence, intellectual breadth and depth of character. The recipient must be a full-time student with a projected graduation date in the following academic year.

Career Goal

Hornsby’s goal since coming to NC State is to serve communities that lack water resources. She plans to study global water resources in graduate school for a career in the global water, sanitation and hygiene sector to combat the social and systemic issues that restrict over 2.3 billion people’s access to basic sanitation and clean drinking water. Also an environmental science minor, Hornsby has studied the effects of natural disasters and climate change. She wants to use this research to implement the right technologies to create the most effective and long-term solutions for improved water needs.


Hornsby’s time at NC State reflects her heart for service. Hornsby has worked with multiple organizations on and off campus including working as an undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Angela Harris for the Environmental Engineering Laboratory, serving with nonprofits such as Wine to Water and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity as a “shack leader” for NC State’s Shack-a-thon. On a global scale, she has volunteered with Engineers Without Borders and CEFASE, serving communities in Guatemala and Cameroon while leading water and sanitation reform projects. Soon after graduating this spring, she will continue her global service in Uganda, researching practices to prevent humans from contracting waterborne diseases.

Think and Do

Hornsby embodies NC State’s philosophy: Think and Do. Her impact has been felt not only within the College of Engineering but also in organizations across campus and around the globe. The College looks forward to seeing what the future has in store for her and what she has in store for the world’s future.

Gracie Hornsby traveled with the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders to a rural village in Guatemala to assist with water catchment systems.

Q & A with Gracie Hornsby

Where are you from? Franklin, NC., a small town in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Do you come from a family of engineers?  Not really. My mom is a 7th grade science teacher so I’ve always been interested in STEM and my oldest brother went to NC State for computer engineering.

How did you become interested in the issue of clean water and global sanitation?

My interest in clean water actually started back in high school. My older sister lives in Honduras and the first time I visited I got pretty sick from a waterborne illness. I started to realize my privilege as someone who grew up with reliable water infrastructure, and then sat next to a civil engineer on the plane back from Honduras who was there working on Tegucigalpa’s water system. As I’ve learned more about water, sanitation, and hygiene and how they’re so intertwined in one another my interests have evolved and been refined.

 What are some of the most recent things you’ve done that have furthered your knowledge or commitment to your desire to help people have access to clean drinking water? 

It’s a continual process of gaining a greater depth of knowledge on water, sanitation, and hygiene issues worldwide and finding my place in the big broad field of “development.” Summer research in Kenya and Uganda was certainly impactful because it keeps all of the research we do in context and rooted in the impact we hope to make. Working with EWB has also been a great learning experience because it’s a great reminder that not all solutions have to be incredibly complicated, but rather involving the community and building capacity is just as important as the technology itself.

How do you feel about this award? This award is an honor because I feel it’s really a reflection of the investment that has been made in me at NC State. If it weren’t for the support of so many people in a multitude of programs across campus I wouldn’t be in the position I am today to get to work on issues I truly care about. All of the experiences I’ve had in college that have really shaped who I am have a been a result of the Goodnight Scholars Program or Dr. Angela Harris or a number of other people choosing to take a chance on the potential they saw in me.