Helping Hispanics in STEM
When fellow student Kevin Dominguez asked Fernanda Tovar to co-found a chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) at New York Institute of Technology, she was intrigued. She had heard about the organization before and had even attended an SHPE event at a different chapter. Yet, she paused before taking on the task. “I was a little hesitant about being part of a club so late in my undergrad [years], but after seeing what SHPE could offer to students like me, I was inspired to think big,” she says. “I wanted to help build this chapter to advance the future for STEM students at New York Tech.” Soon after, she became the secretary of the chapter and when she decided to continue her studies and pursue her master's degree in computer science at New York Tech, it gave her the opportunity to help grow the chapter she helped found.
When the New York Tech SHPE chapter got the ball rolling, they were faced with a huge obstacle: a global pandemic that shut down all in-person events and activities. However, the board continues to meet remotely and make plans for the future. Tovar believes that the secretary is the backbone of the chapter. “Although I am more behind the scenes, I think that my goals and accomplishments expand our efforts for the chapter. A strong foundation will help SHPE thrive in future years.”
Tovar knows how important clubs that focus on minorities are for a community. “We all want to feel included and valued, and SHPE does that specifically for Hispanic students and, in general, anyone who values our community,” she says. “Bringing a national organization to our community helps us bring opportunities offered by SHPE to the minorities in our student body. We want to see more Hispanics in STEM careers, and we can only do that if we give them the support they need to achieve their goals.”
As the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Tovar believes in pursuing her goals to the best of her ability. “My parents are the ones who motivated me to succeed in life and did all they could to provide me with an education to do so,” she says. “They wanted me to succeed and be happy in what I chose to do, and for me, that was computer science.”
After graduation, she hopes to secure a position as a data analyst and to eventually combine her skills and her passion for the environment and sustainability. “I want to lend my ambition and knowledge to help find solutions for climate change.”