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Lesley Lopez, 20 – FUNDED

For Lesley Lopez, being a Paliwal Club of 100 STEAM Scholar means being part of a community that “portrays hope to be stronger than fear.” Read on for more inspirational words from this first-generation student who is currently attending the University of Houston-Clear Lake and majoring in Biological Sciences.

What is your professional dream?

I dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon and implementing advanced medical technology to better serve my future patients.

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

Every person is wired for community. Even though you might think you are better flying solo, it turns out that we are all hard-wired for connection, empathy, and mutuality. Being part of the Paliwal Club of 100, gives me the visualization of delight and does not give my dreams an expiration date.

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

Through vivid experiences, one can acquire an appreciation and a sensibility toward the human condition. By knowing the factors that affect the individuals and communities that surround us, one can make a difference toward a sustainable outcome. By building support communities for women in STEAM, we can change the factors that affect women in the field who experience unequal representation. We must also have perseverance and confidence in our ability to create change in the STEAM field for women.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

As a first-generation student coming from a high school that had predominantly Hispanic students, I did not know if I would be able to fit in at a college that was far from my community. Within my first semester of college, I realized that many girls from different backgrounds were in the same situation I was going through.

So, I decided to build a small community where girls could feel supported by one another in terms of continuing our education in STEM. Through the club’s initiation, we have volunteered at health clinics and assisted low-income individuals.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

Not only will this grant help me get one step closer to my medical school education, but it will also diminish the uncertainty of my future. My attributes to this community can be as simple as saying be yourself because life’s too short to be someone else.