When Veronica Borras-Serrano learned she’d been selected as a scholar for the inaugural class of the Medtronic Foundation and SHPE scholarship, she felt relief.
“My parents had health issues that caused the family to get into a lot of debt,” Borras-Serrano said. She further explained that impacted the money for school. “So with this help from the Medtronic Foundation, I’m able to pay my tuition and focus on other things I need for school.” She’s one of 16 recipients who received the financial lift.
The Foundation worked with the Hispanic Latino Network (HLN), a Medtronic employee resource group, to partner with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). Together they identified worthy candidates who represent the future of Latinos in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The students will receive up to $25,000 for education and other expenses.
Making an Impact
Borras-Serrano, a junior at the University of Puerto Rico, is using the money to help pay for a degree in industrial engineering. She said it can position her for a career that focuses on removing barriers. Specifically, a career that supports equity in care for people like her parents. Guillermo A Rullan, a freshman at the University of Puerto Rico, also wants to use this scholarship to help prepare him for a future that makes a difference. “I always wanted to create machines that could better the world,” Rullan said. “I specifically want to help Puerto Rico because it’s a splendid place and it deserves to be great.”
Shifting the Future of STEM
Rullan and Borras-Serrano represent the many young people who want to explore the possibilities in STEM but are challenged by barriers, including: a lack of role models, belongingness and affordability.
The Medtronic Foundation ScholarSHPE program is part of a larger initiative to improve the lives of underserved and underrepresented communities. To that end, the Foundation is partnering with HLN, to break new ground for Latinos like Rullan and Borras-Serrano ― and help them build a better future.
Gerardo Zuniga, Director of the Project Management Office in core quality services and member of the HLN leadership team is working with the Medtronic Foundation and SHPE to secure employee volunteers that will mentor and coach scholarship recipients.
Zuniga explained the Foundation helps students tackle the affordability issue and HLN also creates line of sight into the representation that exists within the field to help inspire the next generation. “SHPE refers to its members as La Familia,” he said. “For Hispanics, family is very important and SHPE is our extended family — so by Medtronic employee volunteers mentoring scholars, it’s part of La Familia now.”
In addition to goal-oriented mentoring, this inaugural class of Medtronic Foundation ScholarSHPE recipients will have the benefit of community building and focused networking events. Borras-Serrano says she wants this kind of valuable support to continue. “I encourage Latino students to apply for this opportunity,” she said. “It’s already been really important for me.”