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Goals Don’t Have an Expiration Date.

Since I could remember, my dream has always been to be the first in my

family to attend college. Growing up in a Mexican-American barrio in Oxnard, California called “La Colonia”, our neighborhood was filled with hardworking families but also surrounded by gangs and poverty. It was in my neighborhood and my family that I found inspiration to overcome the adversity to achieve my dreams.

Throughout my school years, as a student and a single mother, my grandmother and mom supported me in my school ambitions and never failed to believe in me.

After high school I had to put my goals on hold and focus on work. As years went by, my dreams of finishing my degree still lingered, even after two failed attempts at a community college. It wasn’t until I had my own family that I realized I needed to finish what I started so many years ago. In 2017, now as a mom of two and in my 30s, I enrolled at Everett Community College and started to pursue my engineering degree. Since returning to school I have found support in amazing communities like the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). As a Latina in STEM it is hard not to struggle with imposter syndrome when we face such low representation, which is why I knew through SWE and SHPE I have been able to attend national conferences where I meet other students like myself who have faced such adversity to be where they are.

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The day Denise toured her first school, she entered campus with her two young children and made the decision to return to college. Without her children or the support of her family, none of this would have been possible.

Now as a sophomore at the University of Washington (UW) I am beginning my major in Chemical Engineering. At UW I have joined

research groups in both synthetic biology and Nano-fabrication while continuing my involvement in SHPE and SWE. Walking around on campus I still get overwhelmed thinking about the fact that I’m finally here. Sometimes the best part of my day is coming home to see my kids proud that their mom is in school and talking about how they want to go to college one day to be engineers as well.

My path to getting my degree didn’t take a typical route. Unlike most students, I also juggle family responsibilities along with school and extracurricular activities. However, my path here needed to be what was best for me. Having my children by my side are my inspiration and none of this would be possible without the support of my mom who has always pushed me to never give up. After college I plan to work in synthetic biology or drug delivery while continuing to be involved in SHPE and SWE so that I can help empower the next generation of Latina engineers. Each time one of us succeeds, we all do. Never forget, its not too late to accomplish your dreams.

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