It's finally summer and we're picking SWE Scholar stories back up! Each month, HQ takes time to get to know one scholarship recipient. We ask them what scholarship(s) they're benefiting from, why they applied, how they're using the funds and of course, we ask them what their favorite part about SWE. This month's story features recent recipient: Aurora Alvarez-Buylla.
Q: What scholarship were you awarded?
A: I was awarded the GE Women's Network Scholarship.
Q: How long have you been a SWE member?
A: I've been a part of SWE since my freshman year in college.
Q: What were your goals in pursuing this scholarship?
A: In pursuing a SWE scholarship, I hoped to get financial assistance for my educational goals: a bachelors degree in Computer Science with a minor in Biology. I believe that the interface of Computer Science and Biology through next generation sequencing is changing the future of medicine and preventative care.
Q: How did you specifically use the scholarship?
A: This SWE scholarship has been a huge help in paying my MIT tuition.
Q: Did the scholarship impact you beyond the financial?
A: As part of the scholarship, I was put into contact with my local GE Women's Network. I was able to do an on-site visit at the Electric Insurance Company in Beverly, MA. While I was there I got a lot of help and advice from members of the GE Women's Network. Along with the invaluable guidance, this connection has opened up doors for interviews and future networking opportunities.
Q: What if you hadn’t received the SWE scholarship?
A: Without a SWE scholarship, I would have had some financial difficulty affording college and I would not have been put in contact with the GE Womens Network.
Q: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a current applicant?
A: The strongest applications are those that are honest about your goals and passions. I think the true future of engineering involves people who understand and are excited about the impact of their work.
Q: What is your all-time favorite SWE moment?
A: Before I even started college, I visited MIT during their campus preview weekend in April. During the weekend, I went to an informational SWE dinner. I remember they had Thai food and they had the visiting high school students sit at tables with current SWE members and talk about both MIT and SWE. I had such a great conversation with the girl at our table, and was really able to see her love of engineering. That experience, among others, is one of the reasons I decided to go to MIT.
Q: How has being a SWE member impacted you, at the collegiate level and personally?
A: When the academic rigor of my computer science classes starts to get to me, it is definitely easy to start second-guessing my abilities. It is important to not internalize the social norms that perpetrate negative messages about women in engineering. In this sense, having a community of strong and intelligent women to turn to has been an incredibly empowering resource.
Q: If you could give your High School self one piece of advice on studying engineering in college, what would it be?A: School is going to get a lot more challenging, and it is going to take some adjusting. Be kind to yourself, and give yourself time to learn at your own pace. The challenges and difficulties you face will be stressful and terrifying at times, but will always work to expand your abilities and turn you into a smarter, more capable person. Don't worry too much about grades, or comparing yourself to others. As long as you are always doing your best, you will learn and have an amazing experience.
Don't forget! Snap a selfie and use hashtag #SWEScholarSeflie + tag @SWEtalk on Twitter and Instagram to share your SWE Scholar Story ... there's a chance you may get selected for a feature on SWE's All Together Blog.