I am a sophomore/junior at Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. My inspiration to become a Mechanical Engineer came from when my 6th grade teacher gave me a solar-powered fan. I'll never forget how the blades started rotating on their own as soon as the sun light hit the solar panels. It was as though the blades turned with magic. Exploring how the solar-powered fan functioned opened the world to renewable energy. But, ultimately what turned interest to desire for the field was when I took a trip to Honduras at the age of 21 and experienced being deprived of water and electricity. Realizing that these were the conditions not only the people in this country lived in, but millions more around the world, was unacceptable to me and a desire burned within me to change that. My personal goal is to use my degree and interpersonal skills to start a non-profit one day that will help solve this deficit as it is my deep belief that everyone should have access to clean water and electricity.
Although I discovered my educational interest early in life my journey to becoming an engineer has been a long and complicated one. Growing up in Lincoln Heights, a Latino community in Los Angeles, California, in the 90s, in a single mom household was an economic challenge. My mother came to this country to escape El Salvador's Guerilla Warfare that killed all the men in her family. She spoke no English when she arrived in this country. Her language barrier only allowed her to obtain a job as a seamstress, where she earned cents for every piece she sewed together. Though she earned very little, she provided all she could for me and took on the role of a father and mother figure. That being said we lived on a budget, but I was grateful as we always had food to eat and a place to live.
In 2010, my mother had a work accident that left her disabled and unable to work. Although I had always worked to help my mother financially, this was a huge hit to our income. The disability checks she received were not at all enough to sustain us, so I became a full-time worker and became the head of household at age 20. Adjusting to this took some time, and I had to stop going to school. I eventually returned to school at age 23, as a part-time student at a local community college, as I continued to work full-time. This by far challenged me in many ways and nearly broke me, as I was always tired, making it very difficult to concentrate and learn in class and even more tough when studying alone. What allowed me to push forward during these hard times was remembering how hard my mom had worked for us and my desire to make a positive change in the world. Thankfully, at age 26, I was hired as a part-time busser by a local fine-dining restaurant company. This job allowed me to work less hours and transition to become a full-time student since the tips I earned plus my hourly supplemented the extra income I needed to continue supporting my mom and me.
With great efforts, at age 28, I was able to transfer successfully from community college to ASU. It has been a nine-year educational journey to become a mechanical engineer, but I am more determined than ever. I aim to make my mother proud and build on the progress she has done, as I know that my fulfillment is also hers and therefore lives through me. I want to give back to community by becoming a mentor. I want my story to inspire girls and boys by showing them that we are not a product of our circumstances, but of our decisions, will, and actions. I do this because in order to make a difference on a larger scale and be on the front lines to make decisions that will help millions of people worldwide I know that I cannot do it alone. I must build a team that will help me accomplish these goals, and what better than those that share a similar story.