Scholar of the Week

Gerardo Sanchez      
University of South Florida

Gerardo Sanchez, recipient of the 2016 HENAAC Scholarship by first-time sponsor, Civis Analytics, in the amount of $1,000, is a recent graduate (December 2016) of the University of South Florida (USF) with a degree in computer engineering. Initially a shy and reserved student, Gerardo grew into leadership roles because of his time at USF, where he was an active member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and mentor to incoming freshmen.

Raised by a courageous and supportive mother, who struggled herself to acclimate to the American culture and language, Gerardo was inspired by her determination to ensure he was provided with every opportunity to succeed in his academics. While she was unable to support Gerardo directly when he was overwhelmed and confused by his school work, she was always ready to support and able to find him assistance because she was never afraid to ask for help. Overcoming the strenuous pressures that society imposed on them makes Gerardo proud when he reflects on his childhood. He is the man he is today because of the way he was raised - to be independent, not back down from a challenge, and be prepared to work hard.

Gerardo entered USF with a quiet demeanor and focus-driven attitude towards achieving his goal of attaining a degree in computer engineering. While at USF, Gerardo showed impressive progress towards his degree and was second in a class of thirty students in the undergraduate Operating Systems course, where he met and exceeded project challenges. Most of the class projects contained a report component, in which students were required to present their numerical results, show their experimental reasoning, and discuss their conclusions. Gerardo displayed excellent analytical skills and mature ambition that impressed his professor and lead to casual conversations about Gerardo’s professional goals.

In addition to his academic success , Gerardo is a dedicated leader motivating younger members of his community to set academic goals and seek opportunities that will improve their chances of entering college. As an example, he has supported the Great Minds in STEM Viva Technology™ program as a College Captain at the 2015 HENAAC Conference. In that role, he led a group of middle school students in a hands-on STEM challenge, which inspired Gerardo to share his story in the hopes that it would motivate the next generation of STEM leaders. Gerardo believes that “leadership is much like a torch waiting to be ignited and when it is lit, it focuses students to pursue their passion,” and feels his goal will be complete when the leadership torch is passed to future generation of engineers. “A STEM leader knows to pay it forward. To ignite. To Inspire.”

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