Elizabethe Manzi Sets the Bar High in Gymnastics, Engineering

Since the age of five, Elizabethe Manzi was destined to be a gymnast.
 
After Manzi’s parents were challenged to keep their toddler from attempting her own stunts – which most often involved climbing on household furniture – they decided to take her to a gym to allow her to release some of her excess energy.
 
Little did they know at the time that their decision to do so would spark a passion for gymnastics that would span two decades and counting.
 
Inspired by her sister, who achieved her childhood dream of becoming a professional ballerina with the New York City Ballet Company, Manzi set out to pursue a dream of her own. Her efforts landed her first place on the balance beam at the Junior Olympic National Championships Competition in 2009 and placed her on the fast-track to collegiate gymnastics.
 
“Moving onto college gymnastics, team successes – rather than individual accomplishments – became paramount,” says Manzi, adding that to date her biggest accomplishment has been earning the opportunity to compete for four years on balance beam and the uneven bars with the University of Maryland (UMD).
 
“My teammates and coaches have been family to me, and I am so appreciative of the chance to train to accomplish huge goals together in a sport we are all so passionate about.”
 
But, Manzi’s go-getter spirit and determination have driven her to succeed not only on the beam and uneven bars, but also throughout her academic career.
 
A civil engineering major with a minor in international engineering, Manzi first started at UMD as an undecided engineering major, certain she was called to pursue exciting work that is both technical and
hands-on.
 
“I have always liked math and science, and I wanted to work towards a fulfilling career where I could improve the lives of others through technology,” she said.
 
One of the biggest influences in her decision to pursue engineering was her father, who works at Sony Aviation as Chief of Maintenance. 

“He knows how to fix everything from airplanes, cars and vacuum cleaners to broken childhood toys – and, he is the most intelligent, hardworking person I know,” she said, adding that it was her mother who helped her narrow her focus to civil engineering.
 
“Living in close proximity to New York City as a kid, I was fascinated by skyscrapers, urban living and architecture,” Manzi said. “Since then, my interest in civil engineering has grown. Trips to European cities, Maryland engineering coursework, internship experience in construction, and research experience in sustainable practices have amplified my passion for civil engineering and provided me with a more direct focus for the future.”
 
An Engineering Honors Program student and a member of the UMD chapter of Chi Epsilon, Manzi has proven herself an all-star, juggling the demands of both engineering coursework and an intense training schedule.
 
“It has certainly not been easy,” she said, “but I believe both passions have provided me with a balanced education. [Balancing both] forces me to manage my time efficiently, and I have gotten accustomed to this lifestyle over the years.”
 
Even in high school, Manzi would drive straight from class to gymnastics practice, which often lasted five hours or more. Still, Manzi finds the balance beam and uneven bars to be her perfect escape.
 
“It may seem counterintuitive that more work can be reenergizing, but it definitely has provided me with a fulfilling work-life balance,” she said. “The love I have for both engineering and gymnastics also makes the schedule not seem like ‘work.’ I have learned so many applicable skills through my engineering courses and gymnastics career, and I’m so thankful I have been able to pursue both.”
 
Since her earliest days at UMD in 2010, Manzi has developed a strong interest in green technology and mitigating the problems associated with dense urban development. She will attend Stanford University graduate school next year to earn her M.S. in civil engineering to learn more about sustainable design and construction, as well as how buildings can be retrofitted to be low-impact. Even more, she wants to explore the interdisciplinary nature of building construction as she believes merging the gap between architects and engineers is crucial for advances in urban development in years to come.
 
As far as her future in gymnastics?
 
“I plan to stay active and take up sports I have not been able to participate in over the years, due to the fear of getting hurt – such as long-distance running and snowboarding,” she said, acknowledging that gymnastics is “a sport for the young.”
 
“On the other hand,” she continued, “I would love the chance to coach in the future and stay involved, because this sport is so important to me. My coach always says, ‘Once a Terp, always a Terp,’ and I know I will always be a part of the Maryland gymnastics family.”