Jairo Maldonado-Contreras is on the verge of earning his B.S. mechanical engineering degree, a milestone on a path that he hopes will eventually lead to teaching the next generation of engineers.
“As a professor, I want to conduct exciting research, while providing mentorship to students, especially students from underrepresented communities. I also look forward to teaching students,” he said.
Maldonado-Contreras participated in the BUILD program, and plans to continue his studies in Georgia Tech’s doctoral robotics program. In addition to his teaching aspirations, he wants to research robotic prosthesis and exoskeletons.
She loved to make people laugh and take spontaneous trips. She was open-minded, eager to help struggling students, and liked trying new things -- even lime juice on vanilla ice cream. And Alena’s logo design combined her middle initial with the rainbow to promote LGBTQ+ causes. That’s how Alena Rey Gretencord was remembered at a memorial last fall after her death in a traffic accident. The highly regarded design student was walking on a center median when she fell into the street and was hit by a passing car.
“She was an amazing young lady,” Carol Gretencord, Alena’s grandmother, told the Press-Telegram. “Alena had more special ways than anyone I know. I’m 82 and I never experienced one half of what that young lady has accomplished with her spirit and her love.”
Emely Lopez, who will earn a B.A. degree in Liberal Studies, plans to spend her working life helping others achieve success in their own educations. Lopez, whose parents came to the United States from Mexico as young adults, is the first member of her family to go to college. While here, she contributed to student government as Associated Students, Inc.’s chief academic officer, and plans to earn credentials to teach at the elementary level and in special education settings.
“I plan to lead a school district in which everyone has a seat at the table, making sure that the voices of students and teachers are heard in order to guide the decisions made at the district level,” she said.
Jessica Lam, who started as a President’s Scholar in Fall 2015, is preparing to embark on a business career she hopes will take her to the C-suite of a major enterprise. Lam will graduate with a B.S. degree in business administration, with options in accountancy and finance. She plans to begin working for a major accounting firm this coming autumn, and to eventually resume her academic career in pursuit of a Master of Business Administration degree.
“I enjoy the dynamics of the business world and working with numbers,” Lam said. “I am interested in becoming a CFO in the future because I want to make executive decisions about a company’s financial position to ensure that it is successful.”
Jonah Stoffers will celebrate his B.A. degree in political science before traveling to South Korea for a year to teach English to elementary school children. His concentration is in global politics, and he wants to spend his career in the world of international policy and human rights.
Stoffers, who also minored in English, already has experience as a tutor and in the human rights field, having tutored for International Sanctuary, teaching English to human trafficking survivors in Mumbai via a videoconference connection.
“I hope to secure a job that allows me to learn about other cultures and regions of the world through the lens of international policy or advocacy,” Stoffers said.
Jordan Ngo, who came from a single parent household in Fresno, was drawn to the campus partly because of its biochemistry program, and he immersed himself in science during his undergraduate years. His achievements led to him winning acceptance to seven doctoral programs.
“My career goal is to become an academic professor and to utilize my position to advocate for the equitable representation of underrepresented minorities within graduate education and careers in the biomedical sciences,” he said. “I chose this career because I have a passion for the expansion of diversity, given my upbringing.”
Ngo participated in the BUILD and MARC U-STAR programs, both which exist to help members of underrepresented groups start scientific careers.
Wilma Figueroa wants to spend her life improving public health, and as a BUILD Scholar and epidemiology intern for the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, she has been accepted to several graduate programs. She plans to obtain a doctorate and join the university’s faculty to study public health on an international scale.
"In the long run, I aspire to establish a partnership with universities in Peru and conduct epidemiological studies on the licit and illicit use of drugs,” she said. “Additionally, I hope to develop national web studies in the United States and Peru to better understand the mechanisms behind prescription medication misuse behaviors among international and domestic populations.”