UF College of Design, Construction & Planning

Varela Uses Tools Acquired at DCP to Succeed in Work Environment - Published on June 14, 2018

Alumni Profile – Samantha Varela, Sustainability

Sustainability alumnus Samantha Varela works for SEQUIL Systems in South Florida. She credits the skills developed here at DCP in helping her quickly adapt to her fast-paced working environment.

Can you tell us about your career?
I am a Sustainability Advisor for SEQUIL Systems Inc. My career at SEQUIL Systems began my last semester at UF while simultaneously completing my Capstone Project on Cuba. As a sustainability advisor, I manage all the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) projects for SEQUIL. I also work on various Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) projects as a project manager while coordinating LEED strategies with SEQUIL staff and project teams. SEQUIL Systems provides sustainability consulting services, whole building energy analyses and commissioning services.

The learning curve was a bit steep, but because of the skills and motivation I developed during my tenure at UF, I have been able to learn quickly and adapt to a professional, fast-paced working environment. From the first day, senior management at SEQUIL has motivated me to learn, grow and develop my curiosity, diligence and leadership. The work we provide is thoughtful and responsive to each individual project-owner’s needs with resilience as a key factor. Each project is exciting because it is always different from the last. From university labs to museums to multi-use high-rises, each project has its own unique set of sustainability opportunities.

I am currently a LEED Green Associate, while studying to become a LEED Accredited Professional. I continue to be involved with U.S. Green Building Council in Miami as well as Broward and Palm Beach Counties, where my current focus is facilitating emerging professionals’ access to job trainings and volunteer opportunities that fit their aspirations.

What was your favorite class you took at DCP and why?
Social + Cultural Sustainability in the Built Environment with Dr. Jocelyn Widmer was an unconventional set up that focused on sustainable strategies to global health. This course dove into The Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations and what this means going into the future. Before this class I did not realize how deep sustainability and health correlate. As students, we were really pushed to answer tough questions and be innovative in doing so. We were personally introduced to community change agents in the Dominican Republic as well as medical doctors working in the states. I formally presented, along with my group, solutions to alleviate lack of demand for mental health resources to a panel of judges who gave very insightful feedback.

Who was your favorite professor at DCP and why?
All of my professors at UF were amazing; however my favorite was Bahar Armaghani. Not only did she give me real world connections through her Green Building Learning Collaborative, she provided me with many of the skills I use every day in my career. She truly strives to motivate her students to learn and take on leadership roles in the green building realm. My involvement with USGBC ranges from the Heart of FL region to Miami and was initiated by Bahar. Her vast knowledge and experience has been a great resource even beyond my tenure at UF. As a professor, she is the only one I know that takes college students on a field trip to Atlanta to gain observational experience with green building development in both private and public sector.