Updated: Apr 11, 2019
The STEM Fair brought tips and personal stories to those looking to pursue one of those fields.
By Gabriel Arizon, Co-Editor-in-Chief
The STEM Club held their own event Wednesday to spread awareness about the field and hopefully spark interest in other students to take part.
The STEM Fair was held in Monarch Hall last week and featured a panel of Valley College students and professionals within the four fields of STEM: science, technology, engineering and medicine. The panel of four students and three professionals gave their backgrounds and experience in STEM.
Panelist Natalie Aviles, a biomedical engineering major, gained an interest in STEM due to conversations she had with one of her high school teachers, who was an aerospace engineer. However, it was after her mother was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition that her interest evolved into something she actively pursued.
“She was not herself for a solid year,” Aviles recounted. “They came out with some pain patch called oxycodone. After that, I had my mom again and I realized that what was I wanted to do.”
Microbiology major Ted Daniel Llera, who immigrated from the Philippines three years ago, was inspired to pursue STEM after seeing communities in his home country lack the means to get proper medical attention.
“I wanted to help them and give access to them to have a healthy life,” Llera said.
Panelists also gave advice to the students on how to successful in their careers and cleared up some misunderstandings about STEM.
“[Networking] is the most important thing you will do,” said Carlos Perla, a space systems operator for the United States Air Force. “I’ve been in different companies because I’m pretty good at speaking, so just talk to people.”
“One of the biggest misconceptions with physics majors is people think that you have to be a genius to be a physics major,” said Mahin Hossain, a Ph.D. astrophysics student at UCLA. “You don’t have to be literally Einstein in order to do research. In fact, there are so many people in the background who are doing slow and steady research.
After the panel, attendees were treated to free food and drinks. Guests and panelists mingled together as the Broadcasting Club provided music. Other clubs like the Physics Club and Astronomy Club were also present to give students information about their own club.
Humberto Raya Mendoza, the STEM Club advisor and Valley math professor, remarked on how he felt giving his backstory to the attendees.
“It felt great. It felt like I was part of that same recurring cycle where the mentor passes down what he knows to the student,” Mendoza said. “Even if [the students] are not in my classes, I hope I inspire them to learn something.”
STEM Club President Steven Williams felt very positive about the reception of the fair and hopes to make the event happen yearly.
“Having the student perspective actually matter and hearing people say that failure is okay and you can bounce back from it … I couldn’t have done it better myself,” Williams said.
“The event was really good. It had a lot of practical tips that really anyone could use for any major,” computer science major Matthew Zaldana said. “I think the school should have more events like this. They’re really practical.”