Thursday, June 27, 2019
IDEA Scholar: Melissa Perez
IDEA Scholar Melissa Perez decided to pursue engineering on a bit of a whim.
“I always liked math, but I didn’t really know much about engineering to be honest—there wasn’t much exposure to it at my high school.”
Four years and a degree in mechanical engineering later, Perez said she made the right choice, and is excited to start a career at Collins Aerospace this summer, where she previously interned through the Jacobs School’s Team Internship Program.
Perez said the IDEA Scholars program provided her with access to valuable technical workshops and mentors, but most importantly, connected her to a community of people that pushed and supported each other throughout their undergraduate careers.
“IDEA Scholars helped because coming in I already had friends that I met through the summer program,” she said. “And I think the people I met in IDEA Scholars had similar backgrounds to me, we kind of had similar experiences. We were all in it together.”
Those similar experiences, for Perez, included starting at ground zero with engineering.
“In high school, other people had robotics clubs and classes, and my high school didn’t have any of that—I was coming in here with no knowledge. It was kind of scary, but it has to fall back on you—pushing yourself to learn these things and not being scared of saying ‘I don’t know how to do this, but let me try and learn.’”
Perez got her footing, and wound up serving as a peer facilitator for the IDEA Center’s education learning communities. She planned weekly lesson reviews for calculus, and provided students with homework and test preparation support.
She also joined Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), the electrical engineering honor society, even as a mechanical engineering.
“I really liked it because I got to meet a lot more people from different fields. My engineering friends I had before were mainly from mechanical engineering classes, but now I have a lot of electrical and computer engineering friends, too.”
Her advice to future students: get involved!