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February 2, 2016 |

Wendy-Fernandez_582Hostos engineering student and 2016 valedictorian, Wendy Fernández might not look like your typical engineer, but she is part of a growing number of female students who are trying to change this educational anomaly. Read more in the Caiman Chronicle.

Fernández, who hails from the Dominican Republic, has been interested in engineering from an early age. She said while other young children were watching cartoons, she found herself glued to the Discovery Channel.

“I knew that I wanted to study science and engineering when I was around 5 years old. I used to imagine myself wearing a lab coat and working in a lab and designing cities in space,” Fernández said. “After taking a course in electrical circuits, in high school, I fell in fell in love with electrical engineering.

Fernández is determined to enter a field where women and minorities are working hard to make their mark. According to the American Council on Education’s (ACE), in 2014, women earned just 19 percent of engineering bachelor’s degrees and 18 percent of computer science degrees. When that is compared with the fact that women also accounted for 57.3 percent to men’s 42.7 percent of all degrees granted, it is obvious that the gender disparity in STEM degrees remains high. Minorities also remain underrepresented in STEM fields.

But none of these statistics have deterred Fernández. In fact, it has inspired her to work harder and become a role model for women and other minority students, here and back in her native Dominican Republic. Recently, the 21-year-old was recognized for her work at the 2015 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).
This conference, now in its 15th year, is one of the largest, professional conferences for underrepresented minority students, military veterans, and persons with disabilities to pursue advanced training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Fernández, whose mentor is Hostos Engineering Professor Yoel Rodríguez, received an award at ABRCMS for her outstanding presentation on Molecular and Computational Biology. Hostos was well-represented at the conference, as students Eric Carlson and Kurk Fisher also attended. Hostos alumna Leslie Vázquez, who is mentored by Professor Olga Steinberg and is now studying at Hunter College, was also recognized for her outstanding presentation that focused on Biochemistry.

Hostos is also doing a lot to support STEM studies. The College not only offers an Associate Degree Program in Chemical, Mechanical, Electrical and Civil Engineering, it also has a successful Joint Dual Engineering Program with The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering. This program provides multicultural students with an opportunity to easily transfer their credits and earn a bachelor’s degree, better preparing students to enter STEM fields.

With her Hostos requirements completed in December, Fernández is looking forward to entering City College to complete her bachelor’s degree and eventually attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. related to electricity and software design.

Aside from the Dual Degree program offerings, Fernández said Hostos was a great option for her because of the ESL offerings and the College’s ASAP Program.

“The most helpful resource at Hostos for me was the ASAP program,” Fernández said. “I was provided with monthly MetroCards, money for my books and other support, as well as personal advisement with various advisers. Honestly, I do not think I would be able to graduate on time without the constant support of the ASAP program.”

For now, she is determined to remain a role model in her field of study.

“I do not believe that gender should make a difference in what a person chooses to study; the only relevant element for success is passion,” Fernández said.  Read more>>