Yamilet Perez, 20 – FUNDED

Perhaps you’ve heard the quote, “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone,” from digital abstract artist Michael John Bobak. It’s these words that inspire Yamilet Perez in her pursuit of her dreams. She wants to be part of an organization or team that works on the adaptation and innovation of sustainable development. That could mean she’s advocating for such practices at a local, national, and international level, or working through direct cooperatives in the private sectors.

Regardless, this New Face of Tech is on the right path at as an undergraduate student at the University of Dayton, Ohio where she’s studying graphic design and sustainability.

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

It means that I will be a representation of what the current generation of women advocating for themselves looks like. And, it means I now get to have support for making my dreams come true.

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

We can support and equip more women with the resources needed for them to feel both capable and empowered.

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

Some of the challenges that I’ve faced are financial; I’ve had to be mindful about money and plan my expenses to the last dollar. A lot of stress and worry has stemmed from that, and I often have found myself in a comparison trap. It doesn’t help that I am surrounded by a lot of affluent people who don’t have to give much thought to what they spent money on. It has been a daily issue in my projects as a design student where it is expected that you buy your own tools. Those who can’t really afford them aren’t really considered.

Another challenge was more about being aware of systemic discrimination — and how it plays into access to opportunity. I’ve feared that it would affect me, too, as a first-generation Mexican-American and daughter of immigrant parents.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

Whenever I feel like I am losing track of where I’m aiming to go and why I’m doing what I’m doing, I remind myself to remember all the sacrifices my parents have made coming to the U.S. to give me a better life. Everything they do is for me and my siblings, so it only feels right to make them proud — that their hard work was worth it. Additionally, the values they have instilled in me are daily reminders of the things that are important in life.

A broader motivation for me is the importance of sustainability. Our future generation’s ability to sustain themselves depends on the decisions and actions we make today, and placing myself in that population and position encourages me to fight for the greater good of the world.

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

It will help me reach my goals because I will be able to afford the tools necessary to continue my educational and professional careers. This includes the tech programs, software, and physical materials needed to continue and complete my graphic design career as well as some work with sustainability organizations. This will relieve so much of the stress that goes into my days of constant worrying about how I will come up with the money for these requirements.