Scholar of the Week

Erica De La Cruz      
University of California, Santa Cruz

Erica is currently a freshman pursuing her degree in Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the recipient of the prestigious NAVSEA Scholarship, which is awarded to a qualified incoming student attending a Hispanic-Serving Institution. NAVSEA Scholars have the opportunity to continue receiving support from NAVSEA through their Student Employment Program.

The daughter of immigrant parents from Jalisco, Mexico, Erica worked diligently with her father to learn English and become a U.S. citizen. Erica never gave up, even when her father was discouraged, and worked tirelessly with him every Saturday morning to teach him both language skills and preparation for his interview with an immigration officer. This was a major accomplishment for them both as this now meant he was able to vote.

Erica is a graduate of Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, CA where she not only excelled in her academics, but was very active in extracurricular activities as well as athletics. For three consecutive years, 2011-2013, Erica was a scholar athlete and achieved Best Defensive Player in 2012, on her varsity softball team, all while maintaining an above average GPA in her advance placement classes.

Growing up in a Mexican American community taught Erica many lessons, and inspired her to give back and encourage others to do the same. An exemplary leader in high school, Erica was active in United Students, Amnesty International, and the Officer of Law & Public Service Cohort. She later became a council member with Amnesty International and was in charge of preparing discussion topics and lead meetings and guides for future campaigns. She successfully secured an internship with the Los Angeles Superior Court and then a summer internship with Great Minds in STEM proudly sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation. During her time with Great Minds in STEM, Erica quickly became a part of the team always willing to lend a hand, eager to learn and gain professional skills. Time and again, Erica has shown her abilities, her potential, her character, and her maturity not only in class, but throughout her high school itself, working in highly positive ways to better her school and help her classmates stretch their capabilities to the furthest.

Erica was accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz and was eager to expand her knowledge in her new role as a college student where she is adjusting well and enjoying the experience. Ambitious and goal oriented, Erica plans on attaining her degree in computer engineering to develop software that will improve and enhance the educational experience for students. She looks forward to the challenge of entering a male dominated STEM field and making a difference in the lives of her community.

There is no doubt Erica will establish herself in the STEM community and continue to be a role model to younger generations of STEM talent. Great Minds in STEM is very pleased to have her as a member of the Class of 2015 HENAAC Scholars.

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