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SWENext Influencers: Vanesa Aguay

Meet Vanesa Aguay, a Latina SWENext Influencer who plans to do great things in the field of biomedical engineering. Read more about her story and how her culture has influenced her STEM pathway.
Vanesa Aguay graphic - SWENext

Although I grew up attending a small school my entire life ― learning from and with those whose experiences vastly differed from mine ― I realized that I was the only girl in my entire honors advanced engineering course. 

Upon getting involved with SWENext, I began to understand my identity in the context of a global community of young women with the same aspirations as me and a passion to impact the world through engineering. 

As a first-generation American coming from an Ecuadorian immigrant household, I have come to realize that my culture and background are not obstacles I must overcome. I’ve learned that they are invaluable contributions that have the ability to be an engine for change. 

From heart-wrenching pasillos to quimbolito pastries, my limited time with my extended family in Ecuador allowed me to cherish the things that made my Latina soul flourish even as an American-born child. Although these aspects alone do not make me Latina in the context of a multitude of diverse Latin and Caribbean communities, I am inspired by the way my parents live their lives through a vibrant, Latino soul of hard work and community. 

I am thankful to be a part of many communities that have propelled me to pursue a career in engineering. In particular, being part of a nationwide Hispanic community has allowed me to become a Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) scholar and access a global network of empowering women leading by example through the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

As I have come to appreciate the significance of service-learning and entrepreneurial thinking through my experiences, I seek to continue to grow uBridge, my 501c3 international nonprofit with the mission to bridge the gender and diversity gap in STEM fields. 

At uBridge, we believe in empowerment through community building. uBridge aims to keep the spark of scientific curiosity alive in youth to make the visions they have for themselves a reality. By building bridges of language through bilingual tutoring, enriching STEM opportunities, and leadership development of local and international youth, I hope to empower others to understand how necessary their own unique perspectives are in engineering. 

Bringing my cultural lens with me, my experience of working as a Tech & Education Committee Lead with the Pennsylvania (PA) Youth Advocacy Network focused on youth mental health has me excited about my future in college. I hope to research AI in neuroimaging techniques for biomarkers to better understand and more equitably diagnose neuropsychiatric disorders. 

I am most excited to pursue biomedical engineering through a lens of responsible engineering in the field of precision neuropsychiatry. I would love the opportunity to multifunctionally collaborate and apply the convergence of distinct academic fields to directly impact the lives of others.