Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers prepares students for college

By Olivia Orlandi, Staff Writer

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and their high school outreach program have helped open doors for young Latinx students looking to attend the University and participate in the engineering program. 

Juliana Roznowski, the chair of the high school outreach program, said that she had attended the weekend visit as a senior. 

“My job (as the program’s chair), is to help empower and transition hispanic students into college,” Roznowski said. “And SHPE helps them out once they get here.”

However, that’s not all that SHPE does. They also hold resume reviews, career fair preparation workshops and multifaceted bonding activities.

Juliana said that everyone in SHPE is like a big family. They have Harry Potter-esque houses, active group chats and family photos.

Kevin Herrera, junior in Engineering and LAS, talks about how he has a lot of love for the people he calls his familia. He said he appreciated being given a space where he was able to get to know more Latinx students.

I have also learned a lot through the professional events when it comes to, well, professional work and more than anything, dealing with internship applications,” Herrera said.

Carlos Toledo Jr., sophomore in Engineering and also the activities leader for the outreach program, attended the high school outreach program. He officially joined SHPE his freshman year and said that the program was the deciding factor on whether or not he would attend the University. 

I felt safe and well taken care of, that I had a support system already in place,” Toledo said. “I had found a large group of friends before I arrived on campus.”

Getting familiarized with  everyone involved in SHPE remains a big deal for them. Roznowski recalled being nervous around upperclassmen in high school. But when she started on campus as a freshman, she said that the juniors and seniors were so welcoming and excited to meet the newcomers.

COVID-19 has been a huge obstacle for the organization to overcome. With the program being an in-person visit, they could not hold it as they normally would. 

“It was a huge learning curve for my team,” Roznowski said. “Last year we didn’t have any high school programs, so our first question was ‘how do we even get people to want to participate in something on zoom?’”

They instead turned to Zoom for an interactive online high school outreach program. Members of the outreach team waited at certain spots on campus to give virtual tours to hopeful high school students as a way to make up for the loss of the weekend stay. 

The most successful according to Roznowski was the workshop where they divided up into majors and discussed what their major was during a five-minute video followed by a question and answer session.

Planning Zoom sessions was trial and error for them, constantly brainstorming on how to make it better for the students who attend, cutting the hours, adding different activities, etc. Herrera said it was a struggle to overcome, that it was not as interesting or fun as being able to hold the visits in person.

Toledo said that COVID-19 was no match for the friendships these students shared with each other. Weekly meetings and study sessions are held on on Zoom, and they’re always coming up with new ideas for ways to get together online.

SHPE hopes to continue in-person visits next semester, but they do have some planning to do in order to make sure the visits happen in a safe manner. 

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