Creating a Safe Space for Hispanics in STEM

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in computer science specifically at the University of Minnesota?

I decided to go into computer science because I’ve always known I liked math and STEM, but I never really enjoyed physics or biochemistry. I think computer science offers the opportunity to get that challenge in math. I also really like the logistical problems. As for the University of Minnesota, I chose this school because it is close to the city and there is nearby public transit. When I was touring the school, I found out about the Society of Hispanic Engineers. I heard it is a good way to get into the STEM community that a lot of other universities I was considering didn't offer.

How did you become interested in computer science? What are your specific interests within the field?

For computer science, I like the logic standpoint, I like that you can code something and you can see the results immediately. As for specific interests, I’m currently interested in front-end design, user experience, and human-centered design.

Congratulations on earning the Lee S Whitson Scholarship, SEED Scholarship, and Hackett Jones Scholarship! How will this scholarship impact your academic and extracurricular work?

For me, it's having that peace of mind. I’ve had to work a second job in the past which is already a lot when you have all this school work. The scholarship gives me more time to focus on academics.

Tell us more about your internship experiences.

I’ve interned twice at a consulting firm, Accenture; I was a Technology Consultant Summer Analyst. Last summer I worked with a large pharmaceutical client. I was doing data analysis for the IT department that we were managing. It included talking to a bunch of teams and getting their information. I had to look over some scripts and summarize them for the users on the client side. It was a lot more business-like compared to what was taught in computer science. I really enjoyed it and I thought it was useful information. I got to see the other side, not just being a computer engineer but also the people that go around it.

Are you involved in any student groups? What inspired you to get involved? 

I’m part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. I’m the president this year and I was also the president last year. I was inspired to join because it is a welcoming community for Hispanic students. Hispanic students make up about 7% of professionals in STEM which is very low. I think it is good that we are doing the work to get more people exposed to that sort of environment and to make sure they have opportunities so they can continue to have a plan after college.

What do you hope to contribute to the computer science community at the University?

I want to make sure that we bring more Hispanics into computer science, especially Latina women. Only 2% of professionals in STEM are Latina, which is a crazy low number. I hope that we can bring in more women, uplift more women, and have more resources for them. I also want to create a welcoming environment so they don’t feel alone and the imposter syndrome doesn't hit too hard.

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

It’s not brought up too often but check your emails regularly. Anyone can get a degree, but not anyone can get an opportunity afterward. Opening your email and checking if they have events coming up or people coming to speak at the U of M. Making those connections and taking advantage of the U of M’s network is very important. I think that's what college has to offer. So I think creating that habit of opening your emails on a daily is hard, but it is important.

What are your plans after graduation?

So I got an offer from Accenture and I’ve accepted it. So I will be moving to New York soon to begin my full-time position.