Finding the sweet spot outside of the comfort zone

by | Jan 2, 2019 | Alumni Profiles, Winter 2019 | 0 comments

Photo by Faris Izzat

One need only talk to Sarah Hanes Lokman Hakim ’17 for a minute or two to realize she loves a challenge. A proud graduate of Mines’ chemical engineering program, she confessed that she applied to the school sight unseen. In fact, the then-teenager had never even been to the United States. “When I began looking at colleges, my father suggested I investigate Mines,” Sarah recalled. “In Malaysia, where I’m from, everyone knows the school. We have many major oil companies here and lots of the engineers who work in them are Mines graduates, so the university is highly regarded.” 

Sarah applied, was granted admission and made her way to Golden on her own to begin classes in fall 2013. Once on campus, she threw herself into the college experience. “My sophomore year, I joined a sorority, Sigma Kappa, and got heavily involved in campus activities,” she said. “I enjoyed every minute of my four years.”

After graduating, Sarah returned to Malaysia to pursue employment. For the first two months, she worked as a program host for the online sports program Dunia Sukan Online, but then the oilfield services giant Schlumberger came calling and recruited Sarah as a production engineer. Now she uses her chemical engineering degree to full advantage, analyzing client data to determine the future availability of oil supplies. 

Sarah enjoys the work but is constantly seeking new challenges, something she encourages other international students at Mines to do as well. “My main advice to current students is, ‘Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t forget your roots, but don’t be afraid to explore. Join organizations on campus, mix with the locals, try new things,’” she said. 

For example, Sarah said joining a sorority was a scary endeavor, but it was the right thing to do. “I was nervous about rushing a sorority, but joining Sigma Kappa was the best decision I made while at Mines,” she said. “My involvement with the organization gave me the confidence to step outside my comfort zone, meet new people and interact with Americans that I didn’t know. The experiences I had as a student have enabled me to realize success as a professional.”

Getting her degree from Mines was tough, Sarah admitted, but she is grateful for the work ethic the university imparted. “Mines taught me to work hard,” she said. “I learned that I have to put 150 percent effort into everything I do, and after four years of classes, I understood that hard work will never fail you. I’ve carried that lesson into my professional life.”

When asked about her future plans, Sarah confessed she’s not altogether sure, but she knows it will be something new. “To be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said with a laugh. “My work is currently office-based, but I’d prefer to be out in the field. I’d like to work on an offshore oil platform or perhaps in another country. My parents don’t like the idea of me being so far away,” she conceded, “but they’re very proud of me.”