Scholar of the Week

Andrea Coto
San Jose State University

Andrea Coto’s can-do attitude and steady persistence have led to her many accomplishments as a STEM scholar and an advocate for minority students. At the 2018 Great Minds in STEM Conference, Andrea was presented with an Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader Award for her service to the STEM community. In addition, she was awarded a 2018 Latina TEAM STEAM scholarship, sponsored by Stephanie Aceves, who was a 2014 GMiS Scholar herself. Andrea graduated from San Jose State University (SJSU) in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and is now continuing her studies at Stanford University.

Born in the United States, Andrea was raised in El Salvador, where she enrolled in a two-year Civil Engineering program after graduating high school. In 2011, she completed the program and graduated with honors as the top student of her class. Motivated by her success, Andrea sought to provide a better quality of life for her family and decided to move to San Francisco to continue her education. In 2016, she graduated from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF)with three associate degrees: an A.S. in Science and Mathematics, an A.S. in Science and Behavioral Studies and an A.A. in Latin American and Latino/a Studies.

As a student, she completed a two-year internship with Port of San Francisco in the Engineering Division. During this internship, she helped develop technologies for Computer Aided Design, Geographical Information Systems, and Surveying. In 2016, Andrea worked at the NASA Ames Research Center as a participant in the NASA STEM Community College Institute Program, for which she was assigned as the project manager of a robotics team. The following year, she would work with the agency again as one of NASA’s National Community College Aerospace scholars. Andrea started a formal internship with NASA after completing the scholars program.

After graduating from CCSF, Andrea attended San Jose State University as an Engineering Leadership Pathway Scholar, an opportunity offered to only eight engineering transfer students every year. Upon completing her bachelor’s degree at SJSU, Andrea was selected as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. She is now pursuing a Master of Civil Engineering at Stanford University.

During her academic journey, she founded an educational project called “Latinxs in Engineering,” which provides resources that help Latinx students find scholarships, internships, and workshops. Students can already access the platform via Facebook, but Andrea hopes to expand the project by creating an official website and a mobile app. Over the years, Andrea has worked hard to build a solid foundation for not only herself, but also for other students in STEM fields. She notes, “It has been a long way to get to this point in my life, but I have learned to be persistent. I can achieve all my dreams, and I can be a role model for others.”

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