The Cornell Daily Sun recently highlighted how BME alum Marysol Luna earned her PhD in mechanical engineering, making her the first self-reported Latina to earn such a degree in the school's history. Luna, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2015, was heavily involved in UA's Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, spending a year on the leadership board.
“As a first-generation student, who grew up in a low-income immigrant family, earning a PhD was beyond my wildest dreams,” Luna wrote upon discovering she was the first. “I am here to tell you that fighting for minorities and women in STEM makes a difference, and this is proof of that.”
According to the Daily Sun, Luna first became interested in STEM in middle school, when she would compete in science competitions. She ultimately fell in love with biomedical engineering after joining a lab at the UA.
Having mentored eight undergraduates during her PhD program, Luna stressed the importance of guidance, encouraging young women in STEM to pursue their passions.
“[Speak] up, stop doubting yourself and don’t be afraid to stand out, especially in a field, school or department full of men,” she said. “Don’t be afraid if you feel like you want to present your work, set something up and have people come see your work and things like that.”
Recognizing the difficulties students face with financing their education, Luna wanted to assure students that it is possible to mitigate the costs and cover it through fellowships, aid and scholarships, just as she had done for her graduate program.
“I always say, believe in yourself, is the one thing and don’t be afraid to go for it,” she said.