From a first-year intern and now an on-campus recruiter to a student athlete with multiple researches, these women are filled with stories and advice that are sure to inspire you. These undergraduate chemical engineers prove that anything is possible if you work hard. If you haven’t checked out our first article with other empowering stories from female students who are slaying their way through campus, check them out here (x).
Belma D. Sandoval
My name is Belma D. Sandoval Caraballo. I’m a second-year Chemical Engineering student and I’m one of the UPRM students at Cornell University as part of the Hurricane Maria Relief Program for this spring semester. I’m also a returning intern with P&G for this upcoming summer 2018.
I think my greatest accomplishment so far has been getting an internship as a prepa. I remember people always telling me that prepas never get internships since it’s their first year, but that I should still go to the job fair. This is because recruiters often remember your face, and if they see you a few years in a row, then they recognize your interest and passion for their company. Whenever a company I was interested in would come to El Colegio, I would go to their booths in the Stefani or Luchetti buildings and talk to the recruiters. At first, I didn't even dare to talk to them; I was so scared! I’m pretty sure that I even messed up speaking to them quite a few times. However, after each time, things got a little easier. Most recruiters are super nice people and they’re there to help you! Yes, it can be intimidating, but most of them went through the exact same thing a few years ago. They understand how nerve-wrecking speaking to them can be, so they try to ease you. With help from my mentors and friends, I started to gain confidence in myself, and with the different workshops provided by the different associations, I was ready by the time the Job Fair came around. To my surprise, I accomplished my goal! I was able to land an internship and had an amazing experience that reinforced my desire to study Chemical Engineering. To all you freshmen out there, I was not the only prepa chosen for an internship last year! There was another freshman girl who also got an internship with the company that recluted me, P&G, so don’t lose hope and always give things a try, even if you know the chances are slim.
(Belma pictured with her internship buddies)
In terms of advice for fellow female students, I would definitely say don’t be afraid to try new things! Always be confident no matter how scared or nervous you are. Trust me, everyone is scared, but you should definitely always try your best. If you never try it, you don’t even have a chance of succeeding. You never know what opportunities may arise from going to a professor’s office hours, joining a club, or having a small conversation with a recruiter. I know that sometimes it’s even hard to get out of bed, but trust me, it will be worth it! You might get a research opportunity, a job, or even an important position in a student association just by showing interest and passion. Even if you don’t get an opportunity, you gain experience and network with others which will help you in the future. Also, don’t be afraid to ask others for help! Find mentors, whether they’re older students, professors, recruiters, current professionals, or others to support you throughout your experiences! People are willing to help you, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask them. Even if they’re busy, they might refer you to someone else. And, lastly, enjoy the ride! College is hard, but if you find things you enjoy and are passionate about, then everything starts falling into place.
My name is Amanda Jackson and I’m currently studying Chemistry. I started off in Chemical Engineering, but during the summer between my first and second year, I had the opportunity to do research in the Environmental and Conservation field, which is my field of interest. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to change to Chemistry. I am currently working in obtaining the Environmental Certification that the Chemistry Department has to offer. My long-term goal is to continue to graduate school, obtain a PhD, and become a professor.
I’m also a member of RUM’s female soccer team. I’ve been playing with them for an entire year and, hopefully, I can compete with them this year too. Keeping a balance between academic, athletic, and social life is not an easy task; it comes as a product of practice of 12 years . Last year we won first place as undefeated champions, and we will give it our all this year to win again!
To become a part of the soccer team, I had 10 years of previous dedication to the sport. When I decided I was going to study in UPRM, I reached out to the soccer coach to get information on the try-outs and went to the first one they had on January 2016. When the try-out was over, I saw him speak directly to some players, but to the rest (where I was included), he simply said we would get notified if we had made the cut. “Demás está decir,” I did not get notified; I felt like all my years-worth of sacrifices for soccer had been for nothing, yet, I did not let this keep me down. A month or two later I wrote to the coach asking again if there would be another try-out, in which he told me there would be another one after their playing season was over. When the date finally came, I got the coach’s attention and was told to come in August to practice with the team. After a very long first semester of getting used to a new life and practicing, the time for competition came, and I not only made the final cut, but was usually one of the starting players.
(Amanda pictured playing as a part of the UPRM Female Soccer Team)
As for my research experience, I went to the RUM job fair on my first year and got to experience talking to potential recruiters. Although many of them liked the way I expressed myself and my confidence in my abilities, all of them turned me down because I had no previous research experience. Being unsure as to what I could do, I was motivated by a friend of mine, Caroline Rosario, who had gone to the University of Massachusetts to do research the summer before. When she told me about her positive experience and observing her working on a poster, it felt like a whole new door in my life had opened. I searched for hours for different summer research programs that I was interested in and applied immediately. I was especially nervous during the search because a lot of these programs usually take people who have previous experience, and all I had was the willingness to learn and experience new things. E-mails after e-mails of “Thank you but unfortunately…” kept arriving. Beginning to accept the fact that maybe it wasn’t the right time, one e-mail arrived changing it all. I had gotten accepted! It was a happiness unlike any other that suddenly intensified when I found out I would be doing this research with a close friend of mine.
I think my greatest accomplishment has been obtaining different research experiences in and outside of UPRM. Nobody taught me how to not give up, but they inspired me not to. I’m especially proud of that and of these things I’ve accomplished because although I had help and support from other people, I did it mostly on my own. There was nobody constantly telling me what I should do or what I was doing wrong, I had to realize these things by myself or go out and look for them. There is a special satisfaction in independence that nobody can take from you, because it’s yours and you’ve earned it.
I suggest to my fellow female students to analyze the things that I went through to get where I am today and notice that all in all, the one thing they all have in common is perseverance. Failing is a possible outcome, but giving up is not an option. You should always give your best effort to whatever it is that you’re doing so that if it goes the way you wanted, you can celebrate double, and if it doesn’t, you can go home satisfied with the work and effort that you put into it. You will never regret a well-done task because you should do it to satisfy yourself and because you believe in it. Believe in yourself and believe your friends when they tell you “You can do it!,” they know because they’ve seen you do amazing things!