Stephany Melissa Alfaro Barrera, 21 – FUNDED

Even while in high school, Stephany Melissa Alfaro Barrera was already focused on her future schooling, beginning a dual-course track at Davis Technical College. In 2019, she graduated from Davis with an Associate’s degree in Mechanical Drafting. With concurrent enrollment also at Weber State University, this Paliwal Club of 100 STEAM Scholars Fund winner has now completed her basics and will be pursuing her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Product Design and Development while also working on a dual Animation track!

What is your professional dream?

I want to tell the stories of my home country, Guatemala, through wonderful visuals, bringing awareness and giving back to those who can’t immigrate like me. A mechanical engineering degree also allows me to obtain an income that provides funds to help those back home.

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

It means that my parent’s efforts and sacrifices coming here will be worth it — there will be a shift in generational poverty to prosperity that can be shared with my family back home, too.

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

We can be examples and be clear in what steps we took. We can help fund programs for youth and celebrate the need to be resilient in school to keep a sharp mind and promote a healthy future of positivity.

For my family back home, and for the women in my home country who are in the same condition that my family was in before coming north, I want them to see how I have succeeded and have taken advantage of that success to provide financial support. I think this will promote positivity and make them feel empowered that they, too, have an opportunity to achieve something.

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

My father is a restaurant waiter and that is our sole income because my mother cannot work due to physical ailments.  Financial struggles, which the pandemic devastated even more, has pushed us into looking for more scholarships than the few we had before, which are now not enough to pay for two classes per semester.

My sisters are planning on working part time, and since my DACA application is still in a blocked limbo, I’m searching for people online for whom I can make animation commissions.

As first-generation students, our progress in education is very experimental as my parents don’t know how the educational system works.

Another challenge is the language barrier. Having lived for a little while in Italy, Italian is my second language and now English is my third. I’ve got a minimal stutter, and I keep working on my English to communicate as best as possible. This learning of a new language has been a challenge in many class assignments because I have to analyze words much longer to grasp them in my mind.

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

In order to complete classwork and focus on bringing a form of income where I can find online animated video commissions to make, I must make sure that the computer where I do my work remains sturdy for a very long time.

Other PCs, from schools’ free giveaways of old stock, have crashed and corrupted many documents on me, while also not being able to sustain the energy needed to produce work quickly.

This fund will help not only provide long-lasting equipment for video commissions, it will also help me produce well-made student works for both my engineering and animation classes as a proper portfolio can impress engineering-hiring employers once I graduate.