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Lorena Lopez, Winter 2021

Where are they now?

What have you been up to since graduating UW?

Lorena is now an Engineer for King County, working in the stormwater division. She spends much of her time designing and planning facilities that hold stormwater, requiring the use of hydraulics engineering. Lorena has had the privilege of working under another BIPOC, and expressed how important that has been in creating an environment she feels heard.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

Lorena will be far enough into her career to take the “Engineering in Training Exam”, allowing her to progress within her areas of interest in the field. She envisions herself staying with the county and enjoys her hydraulics work enough that she may continue to do that. She also expressed interest in exploring the possibility of working in transportation. Her lifelong goal is at the intersection of her expressed interests of hydraulics and transportation and consists of building an underwater tunnel for the purposes of vehicle travel.

What is something you learned during college that you still use?

She credited much of the time management skills she adopted in college to her success in her current position. She states that staying on top of the many daily tasks at her current job has been manageable given her experience doing so in college.

Biggest piece of advice for current students?

Lorena stresses the importance of not putting all of your academic effort in getting good grades. While grades are important in some aspects, she mentions that employers hardly look at grades after having your degree, and are more interested in the skills you acquired as a result of internships/research/clubs/etc.

How did LSAMP contribute to helping you achieve your goals?

Describe some highlights from your LSAMP experience.

She emphasizes the ways in which LSAMP is capable of providing community in a variety of different contexts. From her LSAMP-sponsored study abroad trip, to studying in the LSAMP center at UW on campus, she has met other scholars from similar backgrounds as her own. She was able to meet other people in the same STEM classes at LSAMP.

What were some of the challenges you faced, in the classroom/student groups/organizations? What got you through it?

In classes, being the only Latina/POC made her wonder if she belonged and was often left feeling out of place. She states that these environments could often be isolating, making it difficult to persist through her education. She attributes her ability to overcome this in part to programs like LSAMP, where she was able to meet other POC scholars taking the same classes as her.