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Grace J. Palmisano Center for Campus Ministry

Reflections: Maggie Jacques

Learn more about Civil Engineering from Maggie Jacques ’13 who traveled to Haiti to help design and implement a clean water delivery system.


Without this trip I don’t know if I ever would have gotten into service work; now I know it is something I can’t live without!

Why did you go?

I decided to go on this service trip to Haiti because I had never really been involved in service work and I thought it would be a great way to experience it while also applying my engineering knowledge to real life scenarios.

What type of preparation did you do before you left?

In regards to the preparation we went through for the trip we held monthly meetings where we learned about the Haitian culture and what to expect when we arrived there. This helped enormously with things like the airport because the airport in Port Au Prince was very different than any airport we’d ever been in. It was quite a hectic scene.

We also had to do quite a bit of fundraising. We had a Fuddruckers night where 20% of the proceeds the restaurant made went towards our cause and many of the local businesses donated raffle items. I spoke at the church I belonged to, St. Joseph’s Parish in Maine where I was able to raise a substantial amount of money. We also did a letter campaign.

What type of work did you do there?

I really enjoyed the work we did while we were in Haiti. As a civil engineering student, I was able to apply knowledge and skills that I had acquired in the classroom into an effort that was so rewarding. We did water quality tests, took flow measurements and were able to come up with a solution to fix a water main that was leaking over 30,000 gallons a day.

For me it didn’t really seem like work. It seemed like something everyone should do. I would call this more of a privilege: being able to do something I love and being immersed in such a unique culture.

What impact did it have on you?

What I liked most about the trip was learning about the Haitian culture. They are so thankful for everything we did for them. It was an incredible feeling and words really can’t even describe it.

I think I would describe my experience as enlightening, rewarding and eye-opening.  For someone who’s never been to a third-world country, I think it is hard to imagine how truly poor these people are.  What’s even harder to imagine is how incredibly amazing they are and how thankful they are for the work we did.  Without this trip I don’t know if I ever would have gotten into service work; now I know it is something I can’t live without!