Reem with fiancé Elli, mother Haifaa, father Abdou, and brother Sam

Reem Chalil’s plan was to become an architect. But shortly after moving to the U.S. with a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Al-Baath University in Syria, she “accidentally got into fire protection.”

Studying fire codes and designing sprinkler systems for a contractor in California piqued her interest in the field, and the new challenge inspired her to reconsider her career trajectory. Now a graduate student at California Polytechnic State University, she will graduate with a master’s degree in fire protection engineering next summer.

“I love buildings and I love to design,” she said, reflecting on her transition from architecture to fire protection. “But at the same time, this is a huge part of it, doing work that can save the people and the building at the same time.”

Reem’s first day with HGI was October 19, and she’s eager to take on projects and contribute to the company. Like many of this year’s new hires, Reem has only been able to interact with her new colleagues over Microsoft Teams, and she looks forward to making trips to Atlanta when it’s safer to travel.

“Even though this was all through social distancing and screens, I can tell how productive they are and how busy they are,” she said about getting to know HGI. “I like to be busy all the time, and I think I’ll be someone who will make a difference at the company.”

Working from home has been an adjustment, and maintaining a routine is critical. She enjoys running before work in the mornings, and regularly practicing yoga helps to reduce the physical and mental stress that often comes with sitting in front of a computer all day. Reem’s other hobbies include hiking and playing basketball.