I want the next generation to believe that if they work smart and persevere, they can have a very successful career.
Ana Luisa Mendoza (’05 electrical engineering)
Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) Program Manager, Northrop Grumman
I didn’t even speak English when I arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic more than 20 years ago. Although I wasn’t quite sure how, I was determined to succeed. I made some mistakes along the way, like turning down a scholarship to UC Berkeley, one of the top engineering schools in the country. I didn’t know it at the time, but in hindsight, that was a good move: when I came to Maryland, I found a family away from home.
The Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering (CMSE) gave me a platform to share my experiences, ask questions, and see people who looked like me doing great things. Even after I enrolled in the Clark School, I still didn’t understand how I was going to work for any company when all I knew at the time was what I’d seen in books. Practical things like internships, career workshops, and meeting engineers became my blueprint for succeeding in the real world. Sixteen years after leaving the university, I still owe CMSE for so much.
Today, I am a program manager for Northrop Grumman Corporation, responsible for delivering components of advanced weapon systems. I also advocate for bringing more women and underrepresented minorities into engineering and helped start Caobas, a foundation that provides educational resources and opportunities for disadvantaged Hispanic youth in the D.C. area and the Dominican Republic.
I want the next generation to believe that if they work smart and persevere, they can have a very successful career. That message is breaking through at home, too. When my daughter was just three years old, I spoke to her school about my job. Afterwards she said, “Mommy, I am so inspired by your talk. I’m gonna be just like you!”