Scholar of the Week

Emily Barragan
University of California, Irvine

Emily Barragan has always understood the value of her heritage, and the strength it brings in every aspect of life. Pursuing a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering, Emily seeks to create solutions for a greener tomorrow and to serve as a role model for Hispanic students pursuing careers in STEM. Emily has earned the Edison International Scholarship presented at the 2019 GMiS Conference. Emily is currently attending the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and is expected to graduate in the summer of 2021.

As a first-generation student, Emily’s home life has always been enriched with strong Mexican cultural roots. Despite her family’s small size of three, Emily always felt supported by her immediate and extended family and was encouraged to not just embrace her Mexican heritage, but to celebrate it. Emily attributes a large part of her motivation to her grandparents, who worked hard in the fields to provide for their family. Whenever facing a difficult challenge, Emily recalls her grandmother’s words, “Anything that’s worth it, takes work, and anything that takes work is worth it.” One of the most important values that Emily gained was unity, as her family’s hard work, perseverance, and commitment to each other make up the foundation of her drive to excel in all areas.

It was in her junior year at Ruben S. Ayala High School that Emily solidified her decision to become a Chemical Engineer. Enrolling in a course in Mandarin gave her the opportunity to travel abroad to China, where she experienced the effects of man-made climate change first-hand. After bearing witness to and learning of the extent pollution effected the locals and the environment, Emily was galvanized to change how the world obtains and uses energy.

Once accepted to UCI, Emily immediately began participating in the University’s Soil Health Program designed to teach students about sustainable farming and to apply their knowledge to impoverished areas in Costa Rica. Emily has served as a board member of the University’s Engineers for a Sustainable World Program (ESW) since her freshman year, working tirelessly to raise funds for the group’s ventures, as well as participating in on-campus sustainability design projects. In addition to her scholastic endeavors, Emily takes as many measures as possible to promote sustainable practices, seeking to create more efficient fixtures and materials on-campus and ensuring student material waste is minimized whenever possible.

Emily continues to work towards a greener tomorrow, never forgetting the principles of her family and her grandmother’s wise words. She outlines her vision, saying, “I believe, as the human race, we possess full responsibility to ensure that future generations of organisms have a healthy planet to dwell on, and I aim to be among the young adults who handle this responsibility appropriately.” GMiS is proud to recognize Emily as the Scholar of the Week and champions her work in changing energy practices for a cleaner, better environment.

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