Jonathan Lehman-Svoboda is a graduate student at PSU currently working on his master’s degree in civil engineering, specializing in geo-technical engineering. It’s been a long path for Lehman-Svobada, growing up in Madison, Wis., nominally interested in high school, and eventually winding up at PSU and recently receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student award for his work in the School of Engineering.
Jonathan said of the award, “the recognition is a wonderful thing, I’ve worked pretty hard to get this far in my academic career, it means a lot to me in that sense, and it’s nice to get that sort of atta-boy.
“I graduated high school in ’91, and I really just tried to find myself for about three to four years. I was taking classes at a technical college in Madison pretty much part time, eventually I really started getting into mathematics and I started taking some physics classes and thought that was pretty cool too,” said Lehman-Svoboda of his academic turnaround.
“[In high school] I was really interested in sports, what that meant to me at the time was work your butt off to do well in sports and make sure you pass your classesand that’s how I approached school,” Lehman-Svoboda explained. “School was more of an outlet for sports.”
“Up until my ninth year working in the restaurant industry that I realized there’s got to be a better life out there, and that’s when I started to really get into school.”
Lehman-Svoboda is currently working with his mentor and advisor Trevor Smith. Smith recently received a grant to make a compact disc that can aid in the installation of ground anchors, which mechanically stabilize the earth to keep it from falling onto highways, according to Lehman-Svoboda.
Lehman-Svoboda sees a bright future for himself. He plans to graduate in a year and a term, and from there do some consulting work, raise a family and eventually return to academia.
“Eventually after being a consultant for a while, I’d like to come back to a technical college and teach either math or basic physics,” said Lehmen-Svoboda.
“A tech college is what gave me the opportunity to get where I’m at, and I’d really like to involve myself in that atmosphere, in helping other people who were in my position in the past,” he said. “In achieving higher goals and not get beat-down from a school that has 50,000 students where you’re just another number.”