Latinx Engineering Students and Staff Celebrate Community

Latinx Engineering Students and Staff Celebrate Community

Latinx studentsFeatured left to right: Nicole Ortiz, Andrea Martinez, Jacqueline Puga and Lorena Silvas

In honor and celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 - October 15, we reached out to USD's Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering students and staff to share their thoughts on how their Latinx identity has influenced their experiences as engineers and employees and the value of building community at the University of San Diego. Below are their responses.

Nicole Ortiz ’23 (ME)
SHPE Co-Chair, SWE Treasurer

“I believe one of the keys to succeeding in a major such as Engineering or Computer Science revolves around the idea of a support system. I found my support system in the cultural and academic clubs and organizations at USD. Looking around in my classes can be discouraging when I am the minority, a woman of color in STEM. By joining these clubs, I realized that I'm not alone and it brought a sense of belonging and community that I don't think I would have gotten elsewhere. Peers that share cultures, experiences, and now academic struggles provide the support system I've needed this far and will need until I graduate. I am the Co-Chair for SHPE, Treasurer for SWE, and a loyal member in FUSO and each club helped me create my own unique familia on campus. I hope by being a part of more leadership positions, I can help reach out to students looking for their own community and familia.”

Andrea Martinez ’23 (ME)
SHPE President, MECha, RA

“Involvement with organizations across campus is extremely important to the success of Latinx students. I feel as if this is the case because most of us had immigrant parents who could not offer us the support that some of our peers had. This means that we need to find our support in other people who are or were going through the same things as us. I strive to build my community by being involved in clubs and other organizations such as being an RA and being in Student Support Services. I would consider SHPE a huge success of mine, not just because it has opened so many doors for me, but also because it has helped me form a community. My biggest challenge on campus is relating to people since I don't have the same background as them. I also struggle with only speaking English while conversing with other students.”

Jacqueline Puga '22 (ME)
SHPE, SACNAS, Mariachi Los Toreros

"It is essential for Latinx students in STEM to be involved in a campus organization. My past leadership experiences with SHPE, SACNAS, and the school mariachi group provided a community and support system that encouraged my success. In addition, TRiO Programs, professors, and other student-led organizations at USD helped me find life-changing opportunities. One of the biggest challenges being a first-generation Latinx student was overcoming the imposter syndrome. Thankfully my support system helped me understand that my heritage adds to my strength."

Lorena Silvas, Executive Assistant
SHPE Advisor

“I believe all cultures are very important in life. A mixture of people with different skills and ideas make a well-rounded world in my eyes. Growing up as a Hispanic, I know what it is like to be in a non-Hispanic world, which can have some difficulties and obstacles — nevertheless, I feel it is Important to celebrate the work and efforts of the Latino community in achieving racial equity.”


We invite you to visit our home page and social media channels for related news, events and acknowledgements as we honor the rich cultural heritage, history and contributions of descendants of Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean and Central and South American people in the United States this month and beyond.

— Michelle Sztupkay