Making Friends in College

Besides stressing over how to pay for college, what classes to take, and not having parents around, incoming college freshman have to worry about one more thing: friendsickness. According to the American College Personnel Association website, friendsickness is “having difficulty letting go of precollege friendships and investing in new ones.” Are you a victim of friendsickness?  If so, keep the following in mind:

For the mariposas that are flying away:

The car door closes, your million and one bags are stuffed in the trunk, and you wave goodbye to the city you have known your whole life. A whole new beginning is waiting for you as you begin your college life. However, you cannot seem to shake your memories  and, more importantly, you cannot forget your amigas. Having promised to stay in touch and never forget each other, you hope that stays true for the rest of your lives. You already know that you have friends who will always be dear to you, so go out and find friends in this whole new world, don’t be nervous.

First of all, go to all the freshman socials provided by the college, but it may be a little awkward because everyone is a little scared in this big new word. However, since all of you have this in common, find a way to break the ice and meet great people (and free food)! You’ll be spending a lot of time in the dorms, which makes it a great place to find friends. You will be around these people constantly which is a great groundwork to make new and interesting memories. Outside of the dorm, your hungry college self will surely be yearning for a bite to eat at the dining hall. You can bond with your lunch time pals over how bad (or surprisingly delicious) the food is. You can also whine about how much you miss your mom’s enchiladas.When it comes to eating you’ll want to manage your food intake, stay away from the dreaded Freshman 15. You can fix this problem by going to the rec center, it’s a great way to stay fit plus there are group workouts and activities where you can meet your new gym buddies. This also applies to joining sports around campus.

Your only interests can’t just be sleeping, eating, and exercising, and the college knows that. To connect with your interests, and with your new friends, make sure to join a lot of clubs! When you join a team that has the same interests you will surely find people that click. If you don’t find any clubs that spark your interest, join something that sounds fresh and new! Lastly, enjoy your new city by finding and making adventures with your new college friends. Guadalupe Villas, a college freshman that left home, gushes, “The best part is meeting new people and getting to see the diversity of a university out of your city.”

For the flores remaining firmly planted:

You watch all of your friends leave their homes, their families, and you behind. You go back home and snuggle in your bed knowing that you have the comfort of remaining in your hometown. Even with this comfort, you know that you will miss your friends dearly. You have a whole town that you think you know better than you know yourself, but you don’t have your pals by your side to be your shoulder to cry on, or to laugh wildly with. It’s time to make friends with the rest of your city.

Just because you’re staying home does not mean everything has to continue to be the same. You can talk to people you would never have hung out with in high school. They’ll help you see your hometown in a whole new light. Also, you’re most likely not the only friend that chose to stay.  Reconnect with these friends and continue building those friendships. Consider spending  a lot of time on campus. You’ll see a new side of town, and be sure to bump into old and new friends.  Maybe you’ll even have classes with old friends, like Melissa Rivas. Melissa, who stayed in her hometown, says, “I was lucky enough to have friends in my classes. I became really good friends with people I was only sort of close with during high school.” In order to make your home town tons of fun, stay entertained and join school clubs. You won’t feel the absence of your old friends if you keep yourself busy. Also, when you’re involved, you can bond with people that have common interests.

To keep in touch:

It proves wise and fun to visit your best friend’s campus. It’s an excuse for a road trip and nothing feels better than seeing an old friend face to face.  The second best thing to meeting someone in person is a face to face encounter through webcam, like through Skype. Schedule a Skype date with your friends! When asked how to keep in touch with friends Courtney Riddlebarger, a college junior, commented, “I had a roommate in college that was an exchange student from Finland. Now that she moved back [to Finland], we keep in touch through our weekly Skype dates on Sundays.”  Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter these days; contact your buds through Facebook (and more) to let them know you keep them in mind. A “Hey, this crazy thing happened and I thought of you!” on their wall or inbox can make a huge difference.

Perhaps you hadn’t thought that many people would care what you write about in your blog, but your friends do, especially if they don’t see you everyday. Create a blog where you and your close friends can write about your daily experiences. The blog can be about anything and everything you want to write about. When asked about how she would keep in touch, high school senior, Nadia Garcia stated, “I will probably schedule calls with them since I don’t think we’ll have time to find any other way to be a part of each other’s lives.” Besides calling, you can also text your friends, it’ll be just like they never left — except you can’t make plans to meet up at the mall later.

Melissa Rivas, a college sophomore, says, “I haven’t talked to one of my close friends since graduation day. We had known each other since middle school and now I don’t even know what city she’s in anymore.” If you don’t want this to happen, don’t break your Skype dates, don’t stop blogging, and don’t stop with the messages. If you and your friends keep on being dedicated, you’ll mold friendships that will truly last forever.

Writing a College Essay

One of the main things when applying to college is the admission essay. The admission essay, or essays if you have to submit more than one, is your chance to impress college admission officers with your dazzling personality. They have your resumé, test scores, etc., so the admission essay is your opportunity to show the person behind the impressive application packet.

“It’s crazy to write a college essay where you have to sound mature yet let your personality shine through,” says Britney Espada, a high school senior in New York City.

There are many ways to show your personality through the essay. First, make sure to believe in yourself. Without having confidence, it will show through your writing and to the college admissions officer. Admission prompts vary between universities, but common questions include why you want to attend, describe a leadership experience, and/or to explain how you overcame an obstacle.  If this is not the case, then students have the liberty of choosing their own subject.

The following steps is to help high school seniors who need a ‘magical godparent’ for guidance:

1. Read the question or prompt. 
Make sure you understand what the college wants from you. This means that you must know how to answer the prompt well so that you avoid beating around the bush and confusing the admissions personnel. You will want to make it easy for them to know your answer right away. A helpful tip is to tailor the response to the university. For example, having a generic answer for why you want to attend college or how you overcame the biggest obstacle in your life is a good start. A stronger response is one that shows how you overcame the obstacle and how this experience has taught you valuable lessons that you will apply as a student at the university you’re applying to.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
It is important to know your greatest traits as this will be your selling point in your essay. Write them down on a piece of paper or type it up. If you are having trouble, think about instances where you have excelled or write about activities you are passionate about like your love of helping the community, a sport, or extracurricular activity.

3. Start writing!
When you’re ready to start drafting your college essay, don’t pay attention to correct tenses or grammar yet. Just write some sentences to get the flow going. If you feel that one topic is easier to write than the other, then feel free to do so. Even the ordinary everyday activities can be interesting to read about.

4. Pay attention to your introduction.
Remember to make it lively. You could start writing right in the action to catch the attention of the admissions officer. They skim through the large volume of college essays they receive, so if you have a strong introduction then it’ll make your essay more memorable. A good introduction could start with something like “Baked Alaska. It is delicious to eat but darn right hard to bake, but it has taught me how to surpass obstacles.”

5. Organization is key!
Then, when you have more content in your draft, arrange which paragraph should go where. You can start right in the action or with an appropriate introduction where you’d rather introduce yourself or the question.

6. Don’t be afraid of sounding casual.
It’s better to sound authentic than presumed. This of course does not mean that you can use offensive words for dramatic effect or any slang words. The point is to avoid using flowery language such as imbroglio.

7. Now edit your grammar.
(Steps 5 and 6 can be combined).

8. Take a break after working on your first draft.
This could be a couple of minutes or days. The point of this is to see your essay with fresh eyes.

9. Review one more time.
Now, go back and edit your essay again. As you’re reading ask yourself : did I answer the question? At this point show your writing to a friend, teacher, parent, or counselor, for feedback. Make revisions if needed.

11. Submit!
At last you are done! Pat yourself on the shoulder, because you are ready to submit your college essay with confidence.

Hopefully this guide will be helpful for young folks applying to college. Buena suerte!

College Talk: Financial Burden

Every typical family, no matter the demographic, has financial concerns to think about, such as bills, mortgages, and weekly expenses, just to name a few. However, when we do take families’ backgrounds into account, a different perspective on the possible financial grind of American life is revealed. Latino households are still feeling the effects of the recession that hit the nation starting in 2008, which was a nation-wide lag in economic activity. While there are many American families who can say they have recovered from the hard times the recession imposed, there are a number of Latino families who are having to make financial decision with the weight of the recession still on their shoulders.

So for the Latino families still feeling the recession, what expenses will have to be put on the back-burner? Well, the answer to this may be different for each household depending on the family’s needs. However, one particular expense to highlight at present would be the cost of higher education. Teens in high school are typically encouraged by counselors and administrators to consider college. It is not unusual for parents to want their children to lead lives more successful than their own, which, for many Latino teens, especially first-generation U.S. citizens, this would mean attending college and perhaps earning multiple degrees.

Although Latino parents would likely want their teen to be looking into higher education, there is still the issue that this might be a financial burden on the family. It is common in a family for the parents to want to protect their children from the world of “grown-up concerns,” one of which is money. However, teens are old enough to know that they are not guaranteed a place in an American college or university without work, motivation, and money, so what is the conversation about the prospect of college like between Latina teens and their parents, if there even is one?

For El Paso teens Camila Mosier, 15, and Melissa Acosta, 13, conversations about college have definitely been held at length before. Both girls’ parents have expressed that they want them to attend college although they understand it might be a financial strain. That is why they have also encouraged the girls to stay focused and work hard throughout their high school years, allowing them a better chance of earning scholarships. Although she is only a first-year in high school and won’t be making serious choices about college for a few years, Melissa Acosta has shown that there are ways in which she as a dedicated student can make sure she has a better chance of attending college.

“I decided to attend Valle Verde High School. It’s an early-college school, and I am planning to study psychology…I hope that with great effort and work I can be valedictorian,” says Melissa.

Because she is attending an early-college high school, Melissa will be able to graduate with her associate’s degree and will have the opportunity to graduate from a Texas college or university in fewer years than most.

“My parents have started a fund but these days that’s obviously not enough,” says Camila, who has the understanding that what she pursues now will influence her college applications.

Camila plays the cello and acts, and although she doesn’t know what she wants to study yet, she knows that she can continue to grow in her skills as a cellist and actress and use these skills to her advantage.

Preparing for College

By Sarai Melchor CollegeChica1

As young Latinas, we are advised by not only our elders, but also our community to take advantage of what this country has to offer and to put ‘mucho esfuerzo’ in everything.

As a rising senior, I want to help you chicas who are getting ready to enter college by giving you some tips.

1. Don’t feel pressured to attend a prestigious school
Seriously, folks. You can save thousands of dollars by attending another school where you will get a bigger bang for your buck.

2. For those of you who are moving away…
Do not pay attention to your families if they try to guilt you into staying. Our community loves to stay close to our relatives, but some might accuse you of abandoning them. Of course this isn’t true for anyone, but I have heard many of stories like these. Heck, even my parents tried to dissuade me from the idea of living on campus, but I kept my ground.

3. Don’t rush on choosing a major.
Unless you are more or less certain that you love it, but keep in mind that college courses are WAY different than high school.  Basically, the first two years of college are going to be about completing those basic general requirements. While doing so, register for classes that catch your interest from different departments, so that you’ll hopefully find a major that fits you.

4. Do not choose a career path that your parents want.
They might say “this job is worthwhile” and pays great or “mejor seas una abogada” (better become a lawyer). Defend yourself and say that they are not the ones studying. It is your career path and your future. You are going to get that degree with bountiful knowledge.

5. Rent your books or buy them used.
If you get your syllabus a couple of weeks before the semester starts, buy your textbooks cheap by researching the best places to order.

6. Stay on top of your coursework!
College coursework can be more challenging. This is usually the biggest shock for freshmen. Make sure that you keep a planner, either paper or an app. This will help you avoid that feeling of ‘Oh, I have a quiz tomorrow!’ I know I have.

7. Take Risks.
College is YOUR time to shine and try new things. Join clubs. Go to that karaoke event. Introduce yourself to fellow students. Have an open mind.

8. You don’t have to stay in college if you feel that it’s not right for you.
If you come to this conclusion and feel afraid to leave because of negative feedback, forget about everyone else. This is your life. You have every right to choose a better path for yourself. Do you.

Take care, queridas!

From High School to College

Photo from collegelifestyles.org.

Photo from collegelifestyles.org.

Every year students across the nation complete their high school career and prepare to enter into their chosen colleges. College is a symbol of independence, adventure, and individual growth, a stepping stone towards becoming responsible, mature young adults. Whether the college is located in the same hometown or 300 miles away, a transition from high school to college is something that every incoming freshman must face head-on. This transition can come easily for some, while for others it might take a while to adjust. So what exactly is the transition?

For some this might mean adjusting to a new environment, making new friends, developing stronger studying skills, being home away from family, or dealing with culture shock (or a combination of several factors). Since every incoming freshmen will experience college differently due to a variety of different reasons, it is difficult to give a general summary of what college will be like for a student.

Karen Corral, who just finished her first year of college at St. Edward’s University in Texas, reflects back on how her expectations of college changed over the course of the year. “My expectations of college before entering was that it [was] extremely fun as my friends and social media made it seem…[but college] is never what you think it is and you should not go in there with a closed mindset,” explains Corral.

Diving deeper into her own college experience, Corral acknowledges that she had a culture shock even though the university was still within the same state as her hometown. When comparing the two cities, she realized that the “places are complete opposites.” Moving from Austin to El Paso, Texas was the biggest culture shock for Corral.

The culture shock was not the only thing that she experienced at her new college. She had to learn how to manage her time better, become informed about mental health, how to deal with homesickness, and she realized how hard it was to keep up with high school friends. For those that are entering college soon, she advises that “you should not go with an expectation either high or low, but instead with realistic goals, tips, and an open mind to get the best of the college experience.”

Isabella Drogo, who just completed her first year at the University of Rochester , had similar yet different experience to Corral. Drogo recalls thinking that her primary concern was just going to be the academics and nothing else. However, Drogo decided to join the Women’s Rugby team, something that had been her passion since high school. “Joining Rugby was the best thing I did all year since it helped me ease comfortably into college environment, find close friends outside my residential hall, and I got to meet a lot of interesting girls,” laughs Drogo.

With the newfound sense of independence that Drogo felt in the first week of college, she felt ready for the college experience. Although she felt free, she did not forget about her close friends from back home and how “they were always there for [her].” Since Drogo is a native of Buffalo, about an hour away from her university, she was comforted with the knowledge that she was close enough to visit her friends and family.

There is no way to predict what will happen in the following four years to come after high school. Majors might be switched, a class might be too difficult, the pass-fail option might suddenly become reasonable, or an unknown sport to you might perk your interest. Having strict expectations of what a college experience should be like, might prevent one from actually enjoying what the college has to offer. Apart from the academics, college is also about learning how to adapt to new situations, knowing how to navigate with more added responsibilities, effectively manage stress, and learning how to cope with possibly being away from friends and family. College is not just an opportunity to further your education, but it also gears students for the “real world” after graduation. Although the college experience will vary from individual to individual, and there will sometimes be uncertainty of what the future holds, the unexplored possibilities that any college offers should be taken advantage of. What the individual chooses to their experiences to be, that is what will be given.

Creating S.M.A.R.T Goals

Latina Girl Writing - LatinitasFrom school to family and friends, you have goals in every aspect of your life. If you want to reach your goals, it isn’t enough to just say you want to get better grades. You have to come up with S.M.A.R.T. goals to create a plan to reach your goals.

First,  what is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

S.M.A.R.T Goals

Specific
First, you need to make sure that you have specific goals. Then, you will start creating a S.M.A.R.T.  goal setting. S.M.A.R.T.  goal setting brings structure and track ability into your goals and objectives. Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality.

Measurable
Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements by having concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence because it cannot be measured; however,  not eating junk food anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle,where you eat vegetables twice a day and exercise more frequently, is. 

Attainable
Next, you’ll need to create deadlines. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high. Raising against time to complete a goal will not only make the process more stressful, but it can also weaken the learning path of achieving your goals.

Realistic

Be realistic with yourself, but don’t beat yourself up if it takes you longer to accomplish a goal. Remember that what you focus on, like viewing something in a negative or positive light, will affect your goals.

Timely
Don’t be scared to re-organize or change your goals. Sometimes the ideal opportunity to accomplish a goal will come at a later date/time — it’s not a bad thing! Keeping track of your goals as you accomplish them is a great self-esteem booster. Girl, you better be writing those goals in a place where is easy to remember. Make a check mark to every goal in your list that you have already accomplished. It will make you feel better to know that you are almost done. Don’t forget to smile! It is rewarding to know that you finish something from your list.

Best Apps For Your Education

latina girl on computerDid you know that thirty-eight percent of college students cannot go more than 10 minutes without technology, according to a study conducted by CourseSmart and Wakefield Research. Seventy-three percent said they would not be able to study without any form of technology.

Education has transformed drastically. More students take online courses and a lot of assignments and tasks are now expected to be completed and turned in electronically. Paper and pen have gone out the window, even textbooks are dwindling with the rise of eBooks.

It is a New Year and a new semester of school, so time to shrug off the holiday spirit and put on something a little more… studious. It is time for you to get started on your New Year’s resolution of attaining that golden 4.0 this semester. We are here to help with the best apps for your education. So dust off your iPads, iPhones, and tablets – who are we kidding, they weren’t collecting dust – and start downloading these free tools for success.

Evernote:
Spirals? Folders? Binders? Who needs then now-a-days with Evernote’s app-ly existence. For all those students who use their iPads and tablets for quick note taking in lecture, this app has all you need to stay organized and informed. Along with having the ability to create your own “notebook” for each class, this app contains a text feature for notes and a camera/photos feature that allows you to snap a quick pick – maybe a graph or a table – to put in your notebook. A cool part is that you can share your notebook with someone else to collect ideas and to do some research for the upcoming group project! Evernote, also, doubles as a planner. You can set reminders and create a to-do list to keep you on task. There is a lot going on with this app and it can get a little tricky to figure out, but with some exploration you’ll become an Evernote pro in no time. It is one of the few apps that is multifaceted.
“This app is great for note taking on my tablet,” University of Texas at Austin student, Maria Morales said. “I like how it syncs up with my stuff and has everything at your finger tips.”
Evernote deserves a gold star for its adaptation to the modern-student. Plus, you can sync the app with your phone and tablet — both Android and Apple!

Wunderlist:
If you find yourself jotting down quick to-do lists on Sticky notes, corners of papers, or yourself, this app is for you. It’s a planner in the disguise of multiple to-do lists. This app allows you to create as many lists as possible, whether it is a grocery list, to-do list, or a bucket list. For each item on your list, you can set a due date or a reminder – which is really helpful for when you’re adding a homework assignment or an assigned reading! It allows you to see what you have due during the week as a whole, so no need to flip through all your lists to see what you having going on. It can sync up with your email and allows you to even share your list with someone in your contacts or publish it.
“I find this app to be so much fun. It’s so easy and it makes me feel so organized,” said Georgie Jasso, University of Texas at San Antonio student. “I find myself making lists for everything just so I can use this app to check it off. I like how it says completed when you do.”
Wunderlist excels in its simplicity and its ability to make yourself feel so accomplished when you check off a completed task – especially with the little ‘ding’ it makes.

Grades+:
We all know that grades mean everything – they do when you’re trying to pass a class and get credit for it – so it is frustrating when you have that one professor who waits until the last minute to average out your grade. The professor will pass back your paper or test, let you see what you earned, and then pick it back up. Of course it won’t be posted and averaged out until a week before grades are due. It’s all on you to keep track and to know if you’re getting that A you need to keep your pristine GPA. So to make your life simpler and a little less stressful, the app Grades+ will be your savior. This app enables you to input your grades for homework, quizzes, tests, papers, and more for each class you take. Its handiest feature is that you can set a “target grade” and it will let you know what you need to make on your assignments to reach your goal. The number of hours is taken into consideration making its GPA calculation – for overall or just that single class – is spot-on. There is even a reminder feature for due dates.
“I was always keeping track of my grades. I like to know how I’m doing at all times,” said Daniella Aguirre, student at Texas A&M. “I like Grades+ because it does all the work for you – a plus for a lazy college student with a lot on their schedule. I like that it even lets me know what I need to score to get the grade I want in class.”
Grades+ is a useful and successful personal grade book.

Recordium:
Are you an auditory learner? Notes help, but what actually gets you to understand is re-listening to a lecture and making sure you got every key point and definition thrown your way.  Recordium is a recording app – and yes, that’s its only feature. But what makes it so effective  is that it allows you to add notes, tags, highlight, and pictures as you record. This makes it simpler to go back and listen to the audio with additional snippets of information. You just set record and tap the whichever button you want to include an additional memo. There is also a search feature that makes sifting through the masses of audio files more user friendly. Also, you can upload your recording to Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive, or email it.
“I got this app because I was testing out if recording a lecture would help me study better. I ended up really liking it! It’s a recording that is tailored to how you want to study. I’ll add some notes or even highlight to make sure I’m getting all that I can from it,” said Gabriela Gonzales, student at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Recordium is another simple and basic app that deserves an applause for meeting the needs of a student.

Canvas:

Canvas is a platform that more than 800 colleges, universities, and school districts are using now. It’s how you get your grades, syllabus, assignments, readings, contact your professor and classmates, and much much more. But did you know that there is an app for that? Well there is! And if you find yourself living, breathing, and eating (well not exactly) Canvas, then download it and always have it at your fingertips.

SuperNotes:
SuperNotes is a lot like Evernote just without all the bells and whistles. It is a simple note taking app that is divided by notes, lectures, and memos. It has a recording feature that allows you to record lectures, a camera feature, and even a reminder feature! It’s worth a look, if you want to try other note-taking options.

Censorgram:
Cyber bullying is real. And with the growth of technology and social media, it has grown too. But here’s a great new app that’ll help you put a stop to that. Censogram links with your Instagram and allows you to scan your account for any negativity that doesn’t belong amongst your glorious pictures of beautiful scenery, candid moments with your friends, and your cat Fluffy. You can set up keywords for it to detect and it can even help you block those associated with those comments. It’s a breath of comment control. This app is new and growing and unquestionably worth the $3.

Technology is on the rise and taking over educational institutions, so keep a look out for more apps that can help you down your path of success.

Choosing the Right College

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College Chica 2013

With so many different colleges out there to choose from, it can be a big task trying to determine which one is the best pick. Many times,the  popularity of a college or its placement on the annual U.S. News & Ranking can make a college seem like a great choice, but there are a lot of different factors about a college that, based on your own interests and personal preferences, can make it a great or bad choice for you. Finding out what you want in a college can help you decide on one that best suits YOU!

Academic Programs that Spark Your Interest

Taking time to think about what you want to study can help guide you in the college selection process.  Gladys, 16, shared that “the one important thing for me is that they have my major, that’s the deal breaker,” and is looking specifically for programs in political communications or broadcast journalism.  Cristina, 16, says she looks for “Programs with something having to do with medicine, because there are a lot of colleges that don’t have that.” Finding a college that has programs for what interests you is a great way to start finding stand-out colleges to apply to. It is normal to change majors or interests during college, too, so looking for colleges that fit a range of your interests is also a smart move.

 

Affordability

We hear so many stories about how expensive college is, but this doesn’t have to discourage you. When looking at cost, Joella, 14, says she looks at “price, and if I can get scholarships there.” Many times, colleges themselves have a wide range of scholarships to offer their students. Financial aid from the school themselves, in addition to aid given by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), can also make a college more affordable. Looking into the specific financial aid programs at each school can be helpful, since some colleges even have no-loan policies in their financial aid and offer work-study and grants to cover the cost of attending.

 

Location and Setting

Looking at the environment of the college is important; this is the place you will be spending 4+ years of your time, so finding an environment that suits you will make being there a happier experience.  This can include location, like what part of the country it is in, and setting, like urban, rural or suburban areas. Cristina, 16, says she “would like the college to be in a small area,” and is currently looking at a school in Colorado, while Justine, 15, has her eye on a more urban setting of California for the Fashion Institute of Design & Marketing. Based on personal preference, you might find yourself comfortable at a school in a quiet or small area, or might be more attracted to one in a busier, city setting.

School Size and Student Population

Schools can range from having a few thousand to tens of thousands of students, depending on the school’s size. The size of the school can affect things like student diversity and student-teacher ratio. Cristina,16, says she “would like a big one, because usually when at a big one there’s a lot more things offered to you,” saying she is interested in the wider range of people and clubs she will find at a big school. On the other hand, a smaller school can offer smaller class sizes, more personalized professor attention, and a more inclusive campus setting.

 

Preparation for the Future

Many colleges offer help to get you started on your career or find a job after you graduate. Justine, 15, is interested in studying fashion design, and says the most important thing she looks for in a college is “how it will help you in the future, after you graduate”. If this is something you look for, finding colleges with strong career service programs may be something to look into. Some colleges even offer special Co-op or internship opportunities available to students with different companies or alumni.

According to the Questbridge program’s website, other things to consider when choosing a college are, “your learning style, non-academic opportunities, social life considerations, distance from home, and opportunities to engage in things you personally enjoy,” and note that beyond just academics, “there are also considerations of personality and lifestyle.” Doing your research and outlining the things you are looking for in a college will help you to decide on a good fit for you. Finding a place that will help you achieve your academic and career goals, while also providing a happy and healthy environment for you can make your college experience much more enjoyable, and help you achieve the success you’re aiming for!

The Importance of an Internship

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Latinitas El Paso

As a college student looking forward to a career in competitive fields, we hear about the invaluable experience and opportunity of internships. In order to prepare for a future in your post-grad life, you need to know some things about the work pertaining to your field. Internships give you hands-on experience as well as unique insight when it comes to figuring out your career plans. For this reason, it is important to begin considering what you should look for in an internship as a high school student. Think of an internship as opening a small window into the world of your interests which will help in deciding what to pursue for the future.

As a Communications Major and Film Studies Minor, Bria Woods surrounds herself with methods of exploring media. Woods is a development and outreach intern with the non-commercial Jazz radio station, KRTU 91.7 FM, located in San Antonio, Texas and housed at Trinity University.  Her position at the KRTU 91.7 FM as the development and outreach intern has brought her countless opportunities for personal growth.

“I have the opportunity to work very closely with our members, since we are a non commercial radio station, we are listener supported. Parts of the development aspect involves processing new memberships, to collecting gifts, to sending premiums to new members. With the outreach aspect, [which is] probably my favorite, I get to help plan and set up Jazz events around the city. I have the opportunity to meet celebrities in Jazz locally and elsewhere,” said Woods.

“Working at KRTU has helped me realize the type of work environment I flourish in, which are smaller offices, with close-knit coworkers,” adds Woods.

She worked with a close-knit community in which, “it is common to help each other with tasks,” and she delves in tasks across the board from collaborating with others, to helping out in the recording studio. One of her favorite things about the internship is that she gets to help with things outside of her job description. The position has also helped her network, a great and valuable asset to have in one’s arsenal when seeking a job. Through her boss alone, she has met countless business people, musicians and artists. The worst, she explained was having her boss resign because it felt like losing a friend in the sense that “she was like a big sister,” to Bria. The best was her starting a new trend in the office. In her dorm at Trinity, she has a quote board in which she likes to place memorable quotes that she hears in her daily life. She proposed that one was made at work, and what began as her pinning quotes to the board alone, soon grew to an office habit in which everyone was involved.

 “Working at KRTU is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s shown me what I’m capable of, which has boosted my confidence significantly, and I’ve met a lot of influential and important people that have changed my life for the better,” adds Woods.

Check your school’s website, career service center, or volunteer driven websites to see what internship is best suited for you. The opportunities are endless if you’re willing to look for them!

Latina Professionals in STEM

Photo Credit: blogs.scientificamerican.com

Photo Credit: blogs.scientificamerican.com

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields exist all around us, from the gravity that keeps our feet on the ground, to the way our cells are working inside our bodies. STEM fields contribute to all sorts of inventions that help in everyday life, and bring about new discoveries in our knowledge of our environment, medicine, space, and much more! According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce, Hispanics in total make up 7% of the STEM workforce in the United States, and only 3% of Latinas are represented in the STEM fields. Here are some Latinas who have made their career by making discoveries, conducting important research in STEM, and are paving the way for future Latinitas to go after their STEM dreams!

Lydia Villa-Komaroff – Cellular Biologist

Lydia Villa-Komaroff is a biologist of Mexican descent, earning her Bachelor’s degree at Goucher College and Doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the time, she was the third Mexican-American woman to earn a doctorate degree in the United States! At first, she wanted to study chemistry, and was faced with an academic advisor who told her, “Women didn’t belong in chemistry!” Despite these set-backs, she discovered her love for biology, and followed her passion. She went on to contribute to the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells, and now works a company that develops cell processing systems.

Elba Serrano – Biophysicist

Elba Serrano was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but spent many years growing up living in different parts around the world because her father was in the U.S. military. She recalls that growing up, she received a lot of bullying at school from her peers because of her brown skin and Spanish accent. As she became older, she discovered a passion for the sciences, and felt they transcended the barriers of ethnic divide. She received her PhD at Stanford University, and remembers throughout her entire education being one of the very few females in science programs, and part of even a smaller group of minority students. She is now an established Biophysicist studying the nervous system, focusing her research at the University of New Mexico on discovering ways to restore hearing loss.

Adriana C. Ocampo – Planetary Geologist

Adriana C. Ocampo was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the age of 14, she and her family came to live in the United States. She began her interest in science and space exploration early in her youth, and by her junior year in high school, was working a summer job at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Geology at California State University with a specialization in planetary science. She worked at JPL as a research scientist, became a program executive at NASA in Washington DC, and is currently working at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands as a research scientist. She contributed to various space missions, has studied planets, moons, and many other celestial bodies, and was even a part of the discover of the Yucatan Peninsula crater, believed to be the impact site of an asteroid responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs and other ancient creatures of the Earth.

Marcela Carena – Physicist

Marcela Carena was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received her degree in Physics at theInstituto of Balseiro in Argentina. She specializes in particle physics, and studies the origins of matter, and the matter and antimatter in the universe. Carena currently works as the senior theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She is a professor of physics at the University of Chicago, and advises the U.S. Department of Energy. Aside from scientific work, she has worked to establish a visitor program at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for Latin American students to come and conduct research there during their graduate education.

France A. Córdova – Astrophysicist 

France A. Córdova is of Mexican and Irish descent, getting her Hispanic roots from her father. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Stanford, thinking she would pursue a career in writing or journalism. After seeing the 1969 walk on the moon on television, a passion for science was ignited, and she went on to receive a PhD in Physics from the California Institute of Technology.  She became the second woman and youngest person to be chief scientist at NASA, and has become an award-wining astrophysicist. Throughout her career, she developed experiments to analyze space and help answer the questions of how the universe was created. She is currently the director of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. government agency that promotes STEM education and the advancement of scientific discovery.

If you’re interested in STEM, it’s never too early to start looking for related programs at your school or in your area, joining clubs at your school, or talking to teachers at school about your interests! To learn more about Latinas in STEM and how you can get started on pursuing your interests in these fields, here are a few sites to check out:

For Girls in Science: http://forgirlsinscience.org/

Latinas in STEM: http://www.latinasinstem.com/

Latino STEM Alliance: http://www.latinostem.org/