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Delta College MESA Nurtures Student Success
with Scholarships and Summer Research Programs!
San Joaquin Delta College’s rigorous MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement) Program prides itself in providing guidance, support and motivation to promising San Joaquin Valley math & science students. MESA’s goal: Support disadvantaged students who will transfer to four-year colleges in pursuit of science, technology, engineering or math careers.
Hard work has its rewards…
Delta MESA students Patricia Coe and Sukhraj Singh received substantial NSF (National Science Foundation) Scholarships toward their college educations. Patricia Coe received the NSF “Rising Sophomore” scholarship for $12,500. Sukharaj Singh was awarded the “Transfer Ready” scholarship for $10,500. Just as important, these awards could double if the four-year institutions these students eventually attend provide a match.
“These are highly sought after and competitive scholarships because of the dollar amount,” says Cassandra Hernandez-Vives, San Joaquin Delta College’s interim MESA Program Director. “Last school year, Delta’s MESA students received over $94,000 in scholarships.” Hernandez-Vives points out that Delta College traditionally has almost 100 students in the program. “We transfer about 15-20 students every year to four-year programs.”
Rising Sophomore scholarship winner Patricia Coe admitted “disbelief” when she received news of her award. Patricia will use the scholarship toward her ultimate goal: Math Instructor. “I would like to earn my Masters so I can teach math at the community college level. I really love helping people who are struggling with math. I look forward to helping my future students find success!”
Patricia is grateful for the assistance Delta College MESA provides. “The book loan program really helps. My books were going to cost over $600. Fortunately, I was able to borrow two books. As a single mom, that’s huge!” Patricia says having a study center with computers and copiers is advantageous. “You don’t have to compete with the entire student body in the main computer lab.” Patricia applauds Delta’s MESA staff. “They are extremely caring and helpful. Cassandra Hernandez-Vives support and advice with my scholarship letters was above and beyond what I expected. She played a big part in helping me earn this amazing scholarship!”
Transfer Ready scholarship winner Sukharaj Singh developed a fascination with computers during his earliest years in India. “After graduating from Tokay High, my focus was to major in mathematics or computer science. My career goal is to become a software engineer. I love programming.” As with Patricia Coe, Sukharaj received valuable help as a MESA student. “MESA provided me with books, computers, tutoring and counseling services. I felt great after winning! Now, I can concentrate on my education rather than part-time work to support my expenses.”
Cassandra Hernandez-Vives feels a special pride when MESA students receive awards. “I reflect back to what they’ve gone through in the application process, their personal struggles and achievements. Our MESA students are amazingly resilient and focused. Their persistence and determination is inspiring.”
Scholarship awards are not the only areas where Delta’s MESA students shine. Applying to prestigious summer study programs at top universities can act as stepping-stones to successful academic and science/math careers. These programs allow students to work at major universities with the top scientists and researchers in their fields.
Delta MESA student Edith Cortez was accepted to the University of Washington’s Summer Medical and Dental Education Program. Edith would like to be a dermatologist or pediatrician. This fully paid six-week summer academic enrichment program offers freshman and sophomores intensive medical and dental school preparation. “I’m extremely honored to have been chosen for this program and really happy that my hard work paid off,” explains Edith. “MESA encourages all its students to apply for as many internships as possible. MESA provided a foundation for support, motivating me to succeed.”
As with many MESA students, Edith’s motivation is selfless. Edith is the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was motivated to study medicine after her mother suffered major injuries as a pedestrian in an automobile accident. Mrs. Cortez was attempting to protect three-year old Edith. “My motivational focus is my family; to be the first to graduate high school, first to go to college, and obtain a college degree.”
Former Delta MESA student Mayra Guerrero’s profound love for biology and the sciences will lead her on a great adventure. She recently completed the Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) Program at Northeastern University (Boston) for High Rate Nanomanufacturing. In addition, Mayra had additional internship options from Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine Summer Pre-Med Academy, and U.C. Davis’ Biophotonics Research Experience for Undergrads Summer Program. Biophotoics harnesses light (photons) to image, detect and manipulate biological materials like cells and tissues in living organisms.
Obviously, each summer program was enticing, but Nanomanufacturing got the nod. “When I found I was accepted to the Northeastern University internship, I was shocked!” says Mayra. “When I applied, I was hopeful, but also mindful of the fact that I was applying to a school of engineering with no engineering experience. I was a bit intimidated at first…but had great advice and support from family, friends and MESA. I absolutely LOVED the internship.”
During the Boston internship, Mayra worked on bioengineering projects on the nanoscale - about 1/20th the width of the human hair. “I worked with the directed assembly of antibody coated nanoparticles for biosensor applications. In a nutshell - these applications will allow us to detect diseases at very early stages, allow us to increase survival rates, and help determine the most effective treatment for a patient.”
Mayra says her internship maintained a balance between work and time to view the sights in Boston. “For the first time, I was far away from home and shared an apartment with three other girls, each one leaving a blossoming positive impression on my life.” Mayra realizes her summer internship would not have been possible without the support of Delta’s MESA program. “MESA was an absolute blessing to me and my family. The Northeastern University internship was an opportunity of a lifetime!”
Now, back in Stockton, Mayra works long hours at Bank of America to help pay for school and assist with family bills. She helps her mother as a primary caregiver for her grandmother. These responsibilities add up to a grueling schedule. Mayra longs to become a medical doctor. Ultimately, she’d like to specialize in Third World and refugee medicine.
Through hard work and lengthy days, Mayra Guerrero’s academic voyage continues…she was accepted to the University of the Pacific in Biochemistry this fall. “I am overjoyed with the new journey I am about to embark on.”
Alex Vargas is considered a “Friend of MESA” and an excellent engineering student. Though Alex does not meet the program criteria to be a full-fledged member, he used the MESA center frequently. Alex learned of his summer research opportunity through his participation in MESA. Like Mayra Guerrerro, Alex accepted a Northeastern University Research Experience for Undergrads internship, focusing on the nanoparticle assembly process for generating composite nanostructures. He worked with renowned Northeastern University Nanomanufacturing researchers, Dr. Ahmed Busnaina and Dr. S. Somu (as did Mayra Guerrerro).
“Cassandra mentioned the program to me,” says Alex, “I had interned at the Lawrence Livermore Lab, so I knew right away what a valuable opportunity this was. I was quick to apply!” Alex says Delta MESA played a huge role in helping him reach his goals. “I have developed new connections and made new friends through the MESA Center‘s study groups.”
Alex’s academic ambitions brought him to Sacramento State. He is majoring in mechanical engineering. “Nanotechnology is closely related to mechanical engineering. My experience at Northeastern University’s nanotechnology exposed me to this field of study.” Alex emphasizes, “This could be a future career after graduating.”
No doubt an adventure awaits!
Cassandra Hernandez-Vives emphasizes that Delta MESA student and chemistry major Luis Zepeda set the bar by being the first Delta MESA student to participate in an undergraduate research program. “During last year’s Winter Intercession at U.C. Davis, Luis participated in the Biophotonics Research Experience for Undergrads internship. Luis was only one of 24 students selected from a statewide search of community college students.”
Luis Zepeda says his experience at U.C. Davis was, “Unbelievable! I was blessed to be part of it. Prior to the program, I was a bit scared because I was not sure I had the knowledge and critical thinking skills to make an impression on my mentors.” Luis realized that program director, Dr. Ana Corbacho, knew all the right team-building exercises to bring the young researchers together. “Dr. Corbacho gave us the tools and confidence to finish our project before the deadline. She was a great teacher and made sure that we had fun throughout the program. I couldn’t wait to apply for the summer program!”
Luis Zepeda clearly showed a flair for research during his internship. As per his wish, he returned for the 2011 U. C. Davis Summer Research Experience for Undergrads. Incidentally, Luis was also accepted to UCLA for the fall semester! Congratulations Luis Zepeda!
There exists one constant in the Delta MESA student’s comments: the encouragement and support of Cassandra Hernandez-Vives and the MESA staff. “I share their experience as a first generation student,” says Cassandra. “Sometimes we’ve gone through crises together as their lives unfold during the semester. They share their hopes, dreams, fears and apprehension. MESA provides a culture of camaraderie, learning, persistence, challenge and success.” Cassandra Hernandez-Vives finishes, “Delta College MESA helps students not only dream big…but achieve by showing the path that others took to reach their dreams.
Unmistakably, the success of Delta’s MESA students is proof of that success.
For information on Delta College’s Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Program and its eligibility requirements: http://www.deltacollege.edu/dept/mesa/
Cassandra Hernandez-Vives works with Delta College MESA students (Lt-Rt) Annel Pineda, Hussain Muhammed, Chloe Garcia and Eduardo Cornejo at the White Board.
Delta's MESA Center Computer Lab
Thumbs-Up from MESA Student Hussain Muhammed!
Mayra Guerrero & Northeastern University's Nano Technology reseacher, Dr. Ahmed Busnaina.
Mayra Guerrero enters the "Clean Room"
San Joaquin Delta College