Students Aim to Make a Difference
For first-year student Elizabeth Egel, her primary goal in life is to help others. She knows OU will give her all the tools she needs to not only be prepared but also successful with this goal as she plans to use her biomedical engineering degree to attend physician’s assistant school and help others through medicine in a more individualized and one-on-one approach. The National Hispanic Scholar from Southlake, Texas, connected with a support system through activities like the AT&T Summer Bridge Program, Halliburton’s Women’s Welcome, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, among others.
“In high school, there was no Hispanic group of peers or mentors that I could go to for help, support, and guidance. Here at OU they have all reached out to me to make sure I have the best experience here at OU possible,” Egel shared. “I have come to love the engineering community here at the Gallogly College of Engineering and the Hispanic community here on campus. I have made an extensive network of friends and mentors that I am excited to go with on this journey.”
Combing a love for science and music, freshman Elena Figueroa decided to be a pre-med and music (piano) major at OU. The Oklahoma City, Okla., native has been playing piano since she was six years old and realized she wanted to be a doctor because of her uncle, who is a brain surgeon. When she was a kid, they would have lunches together every Wednesday, and Figueroa said that almost every week someone would come up to him and thank him for the impact his work had on their family. She too decided she wanted to have a positive influence on the world. While still undecided about what kind of medicine she’d like to practice, she is considering being a surgeon like her uncle because she is drawn to the technical precision and careful work, similar to the precision she also loves about playing piano.
“The way that my uncle talked about his experiences, it just felt like the best thing I could do in the world would be to be a doctor and save people,” said Figueroa, who is a National Award recipient and National Hispanic Scholar. “I think that it complements well with music because I feel like being a doctor you’re able to give people life and save people’s lives, and music for me is kind of what makes life fun. I think they complement each other well.”
A first-generation college student from Los Angeles, Calif., Yocelin Piedra said one of the major challenges in her life has been coming to and staying in college. She not only had to navigate the process of paying for her education but also understanding how college worked once she started at OU and adjusting to the new changes that came with being a college student. However, through resources and programs at OU like Project Threshold and the Multicultural Engineering Program, she has forged a successful path and plans to graduate in May with a civil engineering degree with minors in WaTER (Water Technologies for Emerging Regions) and Spanish.
“Through my engineering professors and the WaTER minor I have gained invaluable experiences and perspectives on development work from the civil engineering standing,” Piedra stated. “I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Uganda and learn firsthand about some of the most pressing issues in emerging regions. I hope to one day use my skill set toward development work.”