Patricia Garcia, 21 – FUNDED

Born and raised by Cuban and Nicaraguan parents, Patricia Garcia is a Miami native and, as a senior at Florida International University (FIU), she’s on track to be the first graduate of their newly established School of Universal Computing, Construction, and Engineering Education (SUCCEED) with an interdisciplinary engineering degree — with a concentration in manufacturing engineering and a minor in business.

This New Face of Tech winner dreams of being in an executive position at a leading tech company to show the next generation of diverse STEM leaders that there is a spot at the top for them; that they, too, can pursue higher education and become leaders of their communities — no matter their backgrounds or socioeconomic status.

“As I near the end of my college career and enter the workforce soon, this powerful scholarship is one I’ll cherish forever,” says Patricia. “I’m excited to be part of such an amazing effort that is revolutionizing the face of tech!”

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It means I’ve been granted the opportunity to continue to serve as a role model for the next generation of STEM leaders. It means continuing to champion on behalf of women to ensure that we have a fair shot at a seat at the table. It means providing guidance and support for the next generation of underrepresented students that might not otherwise have mentorship.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

We need to continue to place an emphasis on outreach. My hope for women in the STEM community is that they never have to question their belonging in the field, as I once did, and that is why we should make every effort possible to ensure that. We need to continue to raise awareness among young women and their families about opportunities and careers in technology.

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

Born into a society where STEM is often believed to be “better suited for boys,” I questioned whether this was the right path of study for me. The statement, “You don’t look like the engineer type,” led me to doubt my abilities because of the labels placed on me. Growing up in Miami’s underserved Hispanic community of Little Havana, the typical response to my hopes of one day being an engineer was an ill-formed comment along the lines of, “You want to be a mechanic? That’s a man’s job.” I asked myself how I was going to contribute to a field that I had come to believe was designed for a person I was not.

After much reflection, I decided I would not let societal influences, such as the constraining power of stereotypes or the ZIP code I was born in, deter me from pursuing my dreams.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

When I look into the mirror, I see the struggle my ancestors went through to achieve their status today and I also see all those that will come long after me who will continue my legacy. I believe it has fallen on me to build my future and my career into something that can make up for what the previous generations lost in theirs; this is what keeps me motivated.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

From daily expenses to the cost of tuition, financial obligations are realities that cause worry. However, I’m aware that my goals will remain dreams if I do not continue to persevere; therefore, I am committed to working hard in school and searching for ways not to burden my family with college expenses. This funding removes a financial barrier and allows me to continue making progress towards my degree. Ultimately, this is going far beyond just subsidizing the cost of my education — it is allowing me to allocate my time towards applying for graduate school and jobs as opposed to worrying about how I’m going to pay for my education.