Student earns top award



A PhD student has been selected for a major award that is only given to individuals who are the first in their family to earn a higher education academic degree.

Hydra Rodrigues, who is in the final year of her studies towards a PhD in Petroleum Engineering, working on geochemical reactions that occur when carbon dioxide is injected into oil reservoirs to mitigate carbon emissions, has earned the internationally renowned McKinsey 1st Generation Achievement Award.

She received the award after submitting an application that not only outlined her achievements but also the obstacles she encountered early in life in order to pursue her dream of going to university.

She explains: “As a girl raised by a single mom in a low-income community in Brazil, I knew from an early age that education was my only ticket for a better life. But my mother couldn't afford tuition and public schools were full so, with the help of a teacher, I secured a two year high-school scholarship in a private school due to my excellent grades. This gave me the tools to get a sought-after position in the best University in the State, and start contributing to our household. Now I find myself ‘across the pond’, completing a PhD in a top-tier engineering programme and working with brilliant people from diverse backgrounds – way beyond what that 14-year-old could imagine.” 

The award is part of McKinsey’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in business, in society and within the firm. With the first edition of the program, the aim was to recognize talented individuals who are the first in their families to attend university, or who self-identify as women or LGBTQ+.

Awards recipients are granted: 

  • a six-month mentorship with a McKinsey consultant, to aid professional advancement. 
  • $2,500 to support academic or professional development. 

Professor Eric Mackay, Director of the Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering, said of her success: “This is excellent recognition for Hydra, who has demonstrated clear and strong vision for what she has wanted to achieve, and then shown the passion and determination to accomplish it, and accomplish it well.” 

The Award is run by the management consultant firm McKinsey & Company, which has a presence in more than 60 countries. The awards are open to early-stage-career professionals with fewer than 5 years of work experience, and current students working toward a graduate or undergraduate degree.

Key information

Evelyn Gascoyne