Maria Medina-Alva, 22, is the president of Cal Poly Pomona’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She’s also president of the Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honors Society.
It’s a career she dreamed of, but wasn’t always sure she could realize. But with the help of the nonprofit Great Minds in STEM, she now has the financial security and opportunity to work toward the title of engineer.
“Thanks to the financial help that I receive from Great Minds in STEM, I am able to maintain all of my involvements on campus and not worry about having to pay for school,” said Medina-Alva, an industrial engineering major at Cal Poly Pomona.
For the past three years, Medina-Alva has been a part of Great Minds in STEM and credits the nonprofit for giving her the freedom to focus on her grades and stay active on campus.
It’s a security blanket hundreds of thousands of underserved Latino kids throughout the country — from elementary to college and graduate students — have had for the past 27 years. Through partnerships with schools, communities and corporations like Edison International, Great Minds in STEM is helping students from early education and well into the workplace.
“Our goal is to ensure that kids who have an interest in science, technology, engineering and math have an opportunity to pursue their passion,” said Anna Park, CEO, Great Minds in STEM. “We provide scholarships and other programs, such as K-12, university and professional programs to help these students achieve those goals.”
The nonprofit’s signature event — the annual HENAAC STEM Career Conference — provides college students with career and professional development opportunities to help them gain entry into the technical workforce. Students have the opportunity to network and interact with high-level STEM professionals, look for internships, full-time employment and graduate schools.
In addition to sponsoring this year’s annual conference, Edison International has financially supported Great Minds in STEM for more than 10 years, including scholarships and internship opportunities.
“We are truly proud to have the opportunity to help the great work that Great Minds in STEM does in the community,” said Nestor Martinez, SCE vice president, Engineering and Technical Services, who was recently selected for the nonprofit’s Executive Excellence award. “Most gratifying is the opportunity that our employees have to interact with the students in internships and at the conference — they never fail to inspire us.”
And inspiring others is something Medina-Alva and the other students in Great Minds in STEM are committed to continuing.
“I know that once I graduate I have to continue to pay it forward and inspire those that come after me,” she said. “Just like I have been given great opportunities, I should help others have the same or even better opportunities.”