19-year-old twins graduate with honors at Cal State L.A.


Gennelle and AlannaTwin sisters Alanna (r) and Gennelle (l) Dedek have a lot in common. They both love to cook and bake. They enjoy building and creating. They were both admitted to Cal State L.A. at the young age of 15 through the University’s Early Entrance Program (EEP).

And, this spring, both of them graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cal State L.A. at 19 and taking on almost identical paths. They will head to Stanford for graduate school in the fall.

However, Alanna will be pursuing a master’s degree in sustainable design and construction, while Gennelle will be pursuing her master’s degree in structural engineering.

 “My goal is to work in a private structural engineering firm, preferably designing commercial or high rise buildings. Hopefully, one day I can own my own firm!” said Gennelle, who is currently a student professional worker at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety.

Demonstrating academic excellence, Gennelle has garnered numerous scholarships, including the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship and the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California Scholarship. Also, she has served as a teacher assistant for a MatLAB computer programming software class for a quarter.

Like-minded in many ways, Alanna is similarly driven and focused on working toward her career goals.

“I want to work in the construction management industry for a general contractor or design-build firm, building the structures of tomorrow!” she said. “It’s a particularly trying career path for women, but I look forward to the challenge.”

Excelling in her academics, Alanna has also participated in research at Cal State L.A., studying time-dependent viscoelastic deflections in thin, multi-layer plates. Her accolades include the State of California Engineer-in-Training Certification and the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation Undergraduate Fellowship.

Pairing up together, these two Honors College students were co-captains for last year’s Cal State L.A. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Steel Bridge team.

“We designed and fabricated a nearly 20-foot-long steel bridge for a competition at the ASCE regional conference in San Diego,” Alanna explained. “And, our bridge weighed only 169 pounds itself and held 1,475 pounds on it.”

The duo also joined forces to serve as facilitators for the University’s Infrastructure Academy Transportation Program, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration to encourage inner-city high school students to pursue engineering.

“I was honored to be part of the program with such bright students, and simultaneously, to be able to motivate the young women to consider civil engineering as a career path, even though I was the same age as many of them,” said Gennelle.

Both sisters are members of the Chi Epsilon (civil engineering), Tai Beta Pi (engineering) and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies at Cal State L.A. They are involved with the campus chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers too. Off-campus, the two of them volunteer for Heaven on Earth, no-kill cat shelter in San Fernando Valley. They also help out with their family-run jewelry business, Petal Connection.

With all the experience and knowledge gained during their tenure at Cal State L.A., both of them are primed to become engineers of their future.

“I have had the greatest and most inspiring role models at Cal State L.A.,” said Gennelle. “The faculty and staff here have always supported us, and I cannot thank them enough.”

Alanna added, “EEP has also been a tremendously supportive program, giving young students like us opportunities to reach our fullest potential. I am thankful for all the great teaching and opportunities given to us.”

Links of interest:

Early Entrance Program at Cal State L.A.: http://web.calstatela.edu/academic/eep/index.php

Honors College at Cal State L.A.: http://web.calstatela.edu/academic/honorscollege/

Department of Civil Engineering at Cal State L.A.: http://web.calstatela.edu/academic/ecst/civil/

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at Cal State L.A.: http://web.calstatela.edu/academic/ecst/