Friday, November 20, 2015

#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Selina Valladolid

We are continuing with our #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign with a student who continually fights stereotypes in engineering and is extremely passionate about progressing towards an equal field.

Meet Selina Valladolid, the president of the Society of Women Engineers.

Name: Selina Valladolid
Major: Physics (recently switched out of NanoEngineering)
Estimated graduation date: June 2017

Why did you choose engineering at UC San Diego?
My family is from the area. My mom went here, my dad went here. I wanted to go to Boston, but after attending Triton Day, I was like, “I could see myself here.” It hit home with me. It fit, unlike any other campus I had visited.

As for engineering and sciences, I actually took some engineering classes in high school. The engineering teacher taught my biology class, and he was always going on about the engineering projects they were doing. And I thought, “That’s rad.” I took part in the engineering club that year and then took the class. I just kind of stuck with it for all four years after that.

Why did you decide to switch from nanoengineering to physics?
So I realized over the summer that my passion truly lies in space and in the cosmos. I have always loved physics and I came to the conclusion that pursuing my undergraduate degree in physics, and perhaps focusing on engineering in graduate school, would simply be the best option for me.

What are your career goals?
I’m definitely leaning towards research right now. I’m set on going to graduate school, and my ultimate dream is to work for NASA or SpaceX. If there was ever a time I had the opportunity to go to Mars or the moon, I’d probably be down, but that isn’t my ultimate goal. What interests me is the stuff that we’re not going to reach in our lifetime, like the black holes, the supernovas, the star clusters. The really hard, deep outer space.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
I actually have a wall that I put sticky notes on. The first one is probably the most common: “Well-behaved women are never remembered in history.” I always really liked this. We have to step out of the boxes in which we’re often placed.  

What are three things about you that make you an individual?

1. I tend to be very opinionated, especially when it comes to women and any minority underrepresented minority. I am a woman, and I am Hispanic. I have a seven year old sister, and I never want her to think that she can’t do something because she isn’t a male.

2. I see myself as very independent.

3. I love to travel, read, and play sports. My very first trip was in sixth grade to northern Ireland. When I turned fifteen, instead of having a quincenera, I asked my dad to take me on a trip, so I got to go to Paris.

What does this campaign mean to you?
I love it, primarily because I remember how it started. I remember seeing all this backlash against the ad - “Get somebody that looks like an engineer,” comments read. I think the campaign is a great thing, and I hope it will teach people that being an engineer has nothing to do with gender, sexuality, race or anything.

Specifically, the campaign at UC San Diego?
As much as I want as many men to come into my own organization, Society of Women Engineers, and be a part of it, as we are about supporting and encouraging women. I don’t like that men don’t want to join, but I can understand why. I feel like it could be a lot worse here. I’m glad that it could be a lot worse.

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