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Hispanic STEM Professionals Profiles

Hispanic STEM
Professionals & College Students Profiles

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As a part of our initiative, we have developed profiles of Hispanic professionals and college students about their careers and education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), in order to get middle and high school Hispanic students excited about their future in STEM fields. Our hope is that you will see yourselves represented in these hardworking and accomplished STEM professionals/college students. If these talented Hispanic STEM professionals and college students can be successful in STEM, so can you!

 Alex Rojas

I was born in Manhattan NYC and moved to Greensboro, NC at eight years old. I went from the city that never sleeps to the one that never woke up! I am currently a Junior at NC State University studying microbial biotechnology and recently began pursuing a minor in computer programming and another in biomanufacturing. I intend to complete a master’s program in microbiology and then work in the industry. I am passionate about my career in STEM because I believe that these are the careers that will bring the future to today. I have the honor of being part of the Goodnight Scholars Program—a program dedicated to preparing high achieving students to become leaders in STEM. Within this program, I have met dozens of other students that are also pursuing a career in STEM and their accomplishments are inspiring. These students are the reason why I am also passionate about my career and hope to inspire others to follow a similar path. I never experienced doubts about pursuing a career in STEM because I am very passionate about it and have high aspirations for my future. I have encountered rough times throughout my studies about courses being tough but that is something that I was able to overcome because I reached out for help. STEM jobs are important for Hispanics because it will set the stage for the younger generation to pursue similar careers and for us to have a more prominent role in the world. A piece of advice for students who wish to get into STEM is for them to explore all of the opportunities available to them. STEM encompasses a great variety of fields and there is bound to be one that you are so passionate about that you will not give up on and will want to encourage others to follow you.

Gerardo Morado

I was born in North Carolina but my family originates from Queretaro, Mexico. I received an Associate’s in engineering at Wake Technical Community College and am now studying at NC State University for a bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering with an intended minor in Economics. Currently, I am a Goodnight Scholar at NC State University and serve as a STEM Promoter for the TuPortal STEM initiative. I was not always attracted to STEM studies mostly because I was not the best at math and science and my parents never encouraged me to pursue a career in STEM. They did not do it intentionally; rather, we were not aware of the many jobs that are offered in STEM. As a kid, math and science were one of my toughest subjects in school. However, later throughout high school and beginning of college, I got to learn about how math and science are applied to the real world. Learning how professionals integrate what they learn at school into their jobs attracted me more towards engineering and encouraged me to enhance my knowledge of math and science. Engineers are needed everywhere and there are so many types of engineering disciplines that deal with different industries; however, all engineers develop skills and knowledge that help them design the future of the world.

 Irene Bethencourt

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and moved to the United States when I was seven years old. I am currently a pre-nursing student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a minor in Spanish for the Medical Professions. I have been certified as a Nurse Aide, I volunteer at UNC Hospitals, and studied abroad in a Hospital, Sótero del Rio in Chile. I think STEM jobs for Hispanics, specifically in the health care professions are extremely important so that Hispanic patients can identify with the doctors and nurses who they trust with their health. I am passionate about my studies because it is my opportunity to combine my profession with my desire to serve others daily. I first realized this was something I could do when I went on a mission trip to Honduras and provided simple medical care to poor families in the mountains. I first hesitated to study Nursing because I never thought of myself as a “science person” and thought that science courses were too rigorous for me. Over time, I learned to understand that science courses are in fact very rigorous but it doesn’t take a “science person” to succeed in them, it simply takes a determined one. I encourage other Hispanics to remember that with a determined intention, you can overcome anything you believe holds you back. 

 Iris Salswach Cadena

I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela and moved to the United States with my family when I was 7 years old. My profession will be physician. I am currently studying at NC State University and plan to attend medical school after taking a gap year. My major is Biological Sciences with a concentration in Human Biology and a minor in French studies. I am passionate about my STEM studies because I enjoy how much it challenges me and pushes me to work hard and think critically. There are also so many career paths available to me because I have chosen to pursue STEM. I had some apprehension about following a STEM career particularly because I didn’t see enough Latinas in this field. I overcame this by remembering that I must be the representation I want to see in the world. I worked hard to get where I am, and I can’t let my own self-doubt stop me from pursuing my dream job. I think STEM jobs are important for Hispanics because there is an incredible amount of jobs available and not enough people to fill them. They are also high-paying and fulfilling jobs. My advice for students who want to get into STEM fields is to go for it all the way and never let failure derail them from continuing on their path. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it in the end!

 Mariana Calvo Argus

I am originally from El Paso, Texas and am currently studying Computer Engineering with a minor in Spanish at North Carolina State University. I love getting to represent my community through the NCSHP because I get to share my experience with others and promote something I am passionate about. STEM can be an intimidating field, and it is true that it is not easy, but the payoff is so worth it! The feeling of solving a problem after working on it for so long is incomparable. The engineering community is extremely supportive, and you never feel alone. I have always been involved in the Hispanic community, and leaving to North Carolina was a huge step. But there is a huge demand for engineering jobs, and there needs to be more Hispanic representation. We are an extremely hard working, passionate community and there are so many opportunities open to us all we have to do is look! Sometimes it is hard being the only Latinx person in a classroom, let alone a female! My advice to any students in the future is to just go for it!  Being in STEM is all about learning from your mistakes and working hard to fix them. There is no such thing as perfect in the world, so there is no reason why anyone can’t see a future in STEM.

Oscar Molina

I am originally from El Salvador and I moved with my family to Raleigh, NC in 2013. I started my college career at Wake Technical Community College where I graduated with an Associate Degree in Science and an Associate Degree in Engineering. I then transferred to North Carolina State University where I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Economics. Once I graduate, I would like to be a Software Engineer or a Program Manager to help create and design innovative solutions using computers and software. I like to study computer science because it is a major that gives me a lot of flexibility in terms of career options gives me the opportunity to be creative when finding solutions to different problems, and allows me to see the end product of my work in a short period of time. At this point of my studies, I am very curious and enjoy how you can apply more complex algorithms/programs such as machine learning or artificial intelligence to find meaning in different sets of information. I believe STEM is a field that is growing and is always in need of people and there are a lot of opportunities that can be explored. STEM jobs are important for Hispanics because I think they have a lot of things to contribute to the field with their background and different perspectives. I think it is important to not be scared of Mathematics when it comes to STEM majors or scared of trying new things., Additionally, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, instead see them as an opportunity to learn and grow. STEM is a field in which you come across a lot of trial and error until you find the correct solution. 

Address

North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals
8450 Chapel Hill Road, Suite 209
Cary, NC 27513

Phone: (919) 467-8424
Fax: (919) 469-1785
E-mail: mailbox@TheNCSHP.org