Sophomore plans to give back to college and community
Born and bred in Minneapolis, Avery Loya moved to southern California with his mom as a teen and graduated from high school in Long Beach. The warmth and beauty of the Golden State exerted a powerful allure as the aspiring chemical engineer began his college application process.
He still felt like Minnesota was home. He felt CSE’s reputation was world class.
“And the chemical engineering faculty is outstanding,” Loya said. “These are people who are doing really cutting-edge work.”
Add to that the fact that the 3M Diversity Scholarship promised to ease his financial burden by $40,000, and the right choice became a lot clearer.
“That definitely affirmed my decision,” he said.
“This 3M Diversity Scholarship has been a huge help in my life,” Loya said.
Loya speaks with pride and admiration for his single mom, who after working as a waitress for much of his childhood went to school and earned a nursing degree. Her encouragement and her emphasis on education has bolstered his drive and persistence every step of the way.
“Because she hadn’t been able to go to college when she was young, my mom advised, ‘You must view this as an investment. The most important thing is that you can get an education so you can have opportunities I didn’t,’” he said.
Learning outside the classroom
Loya has embraced life in CSE with energy and enthusiasm.
Last spring, as a member of the organizing committee, he helped to plan and execute CSE Week, an annual weeklong collection of events celebrating the College of Science and Engineering. The experience deepened his appreciation of the academic community to which he belongs.
“I did a lot of reaching out to student groups and coordinating with them to curate various events,” Loya said.
“And I was present at almost every event,” Loya said, of his role in CSE Week.
“It was a lot of fun with interesting demos and a really great celebration of the college,” he added. “It’s definitely the most exciting thing that happens in CSE all year.”
Paying it forward
In addition to his studies and involvement with CSE, Loya volunteers with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and with a vegetarian advocacy group, Compassionate Action for Animals, as well as working at a Thai restaurant.
This past summer he worked for Environment Minnesota, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.
Loya feels more confident than ever that he’s in the right place.
“There’s a really good vibe within the College of Science and Engineering,” Loya said.
“It’s pretty tight, and we support each other,” he added. “CSE specifically makes a deliberate effort to be inclusive.”
There are many minority-focused student groups that add to the sense of community, he says and despite the academic rigor, “we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Loya believes what goes around comes around, and someday he’d like to pay forward the support he’s received from 3M, as well as from the U-Promise and Frederick McKinley Jones scholarships.
“It’s huge,” he said.“I want to be able to give back to the college and to the community, and not be in crippling debt. This scholarship really makes all the difference.”
Story by Susan Maas
If you’d like to support University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering students, visit our CSE Giving website.