By Kim Walter -- email@example.com
In 2007, Edinburg resident Allen Bowers graduated third in his class at Central High School. This month, he graduated with the highest grade point average in Virginia Tech's Engineering Department.
Bowers's graduation Virginia Tech took place May 12. He finished with a 4.0 GPA, which was also tied for the highest in the entire university.
The School of Engineering had around 1,600 undergraduates. Bowers, who took a year off between high school and college, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
In April, Bowers found out that he would also be awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship that will allow him to continue graduate studies and work for the next three years.
Bowers said his professors assured him that it was quite an accomplishment.
"I was definitely surprised," he said. "During my time here, it wasn't really my goal ... actually none of where I'm at was a goal from the beginning."
In high school, Bowers was the state Future Farmers of America president. After graduating, he took a year off to travel around Virginia and other parts of the country to speak to other students about leadership and agriculture.
"God taught me two things that year," he said. "I developed my communication skills, for one, and while I enjoy agriculture, it just wasn't my passion."
Bowers started a research project this past year that involved combining the foundation of structures with geothermal studies.
"The specific application of the technology is to see how those things can work together to de-ice a bridge," he said. "Keeping a bridge heated during the winter will make them safer, prevent the use of salt which is a big factor in bridge deterioration, and will therefore save a lot of money."
Bowers decided to stay at Virginia Tech to complete his geotechnical research because "it's the best school in the nation for that type of engineering."
The 23-year-old is getting married this June, and plans to use his degree, along with his fiance's, in the mission field. He hopes to go overseas and help others.
"In terms of infrastructure, we can help develop road, water and sanitation systems to help prevent disease and improve their standard of living," he said of doing work in foreign countries.
Bowers said his faith was a big part of his life at school, as he was a part of several mission trips, including two to Haiti.
"I've found that the only difference between me and them is the place where we were born," he said. "I've been blessed with all these opportunities, but I believe it's my responsibility to help those who are not so fortunate."