By Raquel Velez, La Coalición Board of Directors
I started high school convinced I would be the next Steven Spielberg — a big Hollywood director! Then, one day during my junior year, the switch flipped up.
I remember that day like it was yesterday.
I was invited by Princeton University’s Society of Women Engineers to learn more about engineering. There was a panel discussion featuring women from five different engineering disciplines: electrical, environmental, industrial, chemical, and mechanical. Each engineer talked about what she does in her field and why she chose it.
The mechanical engineer was the last one to speak. She said, ”You know, what these women do is extremely cool, important, and valuable. But I came to show you this — ” She whipped out a ROBOT from under the table. It was magical! I never knew it was possible to build robots in real life, let alone that women could do it, too!
From that moment, my passion in life has been and continues to be technology. I have built amazingly cool things, from advanced robots to neat apps you can use on your phone. And I have helped many people learn that, yes!, it’s not only possible, but YOU can do it, too!
People are surprised when they find out I’m 27, Latina, and so well accomplished. But as Isaac Newton (the father of calculus) once said, ”If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” It has been by the grace of the people who came before me that I have been able to come up so quickly and raise the bar even higher for those who are next.
My deepest desire is to make a difference in the world. I want to leave a legacy that will be cherished by everyone that comes after me. I don’t need to be remembered, necessarily, but I want my work to help make the world a better place than when I found it.
When I was asked to join the board of La Coalición, I was beyond thrilled. Though my board experience was limited, I knew I could make a real difference in an organization that serves so many people in so many different ways!
It has taken me a few months to find my groove, but I’m thrilled to be helping La Coalición develop effective strategies for using technology. Right now, we’re working on spreading the message of what the organization does to a wider audience. One our methods is to tell stories from those of us who are a part of it, like mine.
My story is only one of thousands.