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Friday, October 19, 2018

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Juarez (center) at the CSU Trustees Award ceremony. Juarez (center) at the CSU Trustees Award ceremony.

Overcoming Obstacles to Succeed

Engineering student Sergio Juarez received the prestigious CSU Trustee's Award.
By Hallie Jacobs

“The obstacles I have had to face and overcome give me a confidence that is unmatched.”

Sergio Juarez, a senior studying mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, didn't let an upbringing in an economically depressed and racially segregated city stifle his drive to succeed. Instead, it fueled the fire.

His passion for engineering, commitment to excellence and involvement in an abundance of organizations were recently recognized when he was awarded the prestigious California State University Trustee's Award for Outstanding Achievement.

The award is given each year to students who have demonstrated financial need, experienced personal hardships and have attributes of merit, including superior academic performance, exemplary community service and significant personal achievements.

CSU trustrees' scholars are nominated by their campus president. Each campus selects one scholar, and a committee formed by the CSU Foundation reviews the nominations and awards students additional honors through named scholarship.

Finding a place

When Juarez arrived on campus, he struggled to find his place in the campus community.

"It was during this time that I struggled financially to support myself and I struggled academically to understand the continually difficult course work in my major," he said. "These problems were amplified by the fact that 'home' was nine hours north of this new and foreign place that I had arrived at."

However, Juarez's perseverance prevailed as he decided to get involved with SDSU's Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, along with several other campus organizations." 

"Sergio deserves this scholarship," said Theresa Garcia, interim assistant dean of the College of Engineering. "He is an exemplary mechanical engineering student,  an excellent role model to his peers and to young students, and intends to pursue graduate school."

An impressive resume

Juarez recently completed an internship at the Idaho National Laboratory through the Department of Energy and was accepted into SDSU's Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering through his participation in MESA. He is actively engaged in San Diego's activist community and various organizations that encourage students to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

He is an as active member in Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (MEChA), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Latinos in Engineering and Science.

On the horizon

Following graduation in May, Juarez plans to leverage his passion for renewable energy to start a business developing products that are sustainable and ecologically sound. He also plans to continue working with his mentors to continue to do outreach in the community.

But Juarez's altruistic spirit isn't waiting until post-graduation to flourish — it's already in full-force.

"I want people to know that Im not waiting to obtain a degree or title to begin to enrich and nurture my community," he said. "It is of utmost importance to me that other students see a person of color in the STEM fields."