Wednesday, January 27, 2016
#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Elsie Varela
Meet our next student Elsie, who refers to herself as a "social-justice oriented, tree-hugging, feminist engineer."
Name: Elsie Varela
Major: Environmental Engineering
Estimated graduation date: June 2017
Why did you choose engineering at UC San Diego?
I chose engineering at UC San Diego because I had been familiar with its engineering focus - how it offered various opportunities for engineers, including research and internships. It was also one of the few schools that had Environmental Engineering, so I knew it would be a good choice for me.
What are your career goals?
I don't know exactly how, but I want my work to connect environmental engineering to public health and to bring light to the idea that the poorest people are disproportionately affected by environmental issues. I also want to center my career on ending disparities of minorities in engineering and higher education in general, particularly women, and women of color.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
One of my favorites is, "If I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain...I shall not live in vain."
What are some things that are unique about you?
1. I am a social-justice oriented, tree-hugging, feminist engineer.
2. 20 and can't drive.
3. I interned at a law firm when I was 15.
What does this campaign mean to you?
I’d always heard the negative statistics about minorities in higher education and women in engineering, but I didn't fully understand until I got to college. Feeling out of place in engineering orientation as a woman, and then even more so as a Latina, set the tone for how I continuously feel as an engineering major at UC San Diego. It is a constant internal battle to be a double minority - feeling like I don’t belong, feeling like I’m not smart enough, feeling unheard and afraid to ask questions for the fear of proving right the negative stereotypes about both my race and my gender. This campaign means that my experiences and those of other minorities are being recognized and valued. It means that I am not the only one that feels this way and it gives me a greater sense of belonging on this campus.