Scholar of the Week

Luz Sotelo
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

At an early age, Luz Sotelo witnessed the humanitarian efforts her family put forth to help those in need. These experiences instilled in her a strong sense of duty and responsibility for her community. This drive, paired with her passion for engineering, resulted in her recognition as an Outstanding Graduate Student Leader at the 2019 Great Minds in STEM Conference. In addition to this award, she was presented with a 2019 Union Pacific Scholarship. Luz currently attends the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL), where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics.

Luz was raised in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, where her parents worked for years at a local nonprofit organization. It was here that she became deeply familiar with the consequences of poverty and the people whose lives it had affected. Luz decided that in order to help others in her community she would first need to move to the United States and focus on her own education, “I realized that the best way I could represent and give back to my community was to set high goals for myself and continuously raise my own standards.”

After moving to Texas at the age of twenty, Luz began taking classes at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Shortly after she began her studies, her family encountered financial hardships, and she became its primary provider. At times, Luz had to interrupt her schooling in order to support her family. Nonetheless, she persevered and was able to continue her education.

As an undergraduate, she became a member of the school’s honors society, design team, and research center. During her extracurricular activities, she frequently took part in various STEM-related volunteer events which included research and design activities for high school and college students and Summer Camps for grade level students. In 2016, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. This made her the first woman in her family with a STEM degree and the first to pursue graduate studies.

Now studying at UNL, Luz serves as Chair of the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This position allows her to speak with other graduate students to gather perspective on important topics regarding academic inclusion across campus. Additionally, she serves as the university’s President of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Graduate Student Assembly. After obtaining her degree, Luz plans to apply her passion for research and teaching to a career as a professor of mechanical engineering. She plans to graduate with her doctorate in May of 2021.

Years after leaving Guanajuato, Luz still possesses the same spark that drove her to pursue higher education as a young adult. Her generosity and desire to help others makes her an inspiration and a role model for all STEM students. She notes, “My experiences and their accompanying challenges have shaped me into the woman I am today, helped me find my passion for engineering, and continue to inspire me every day.” Great Minds in STEM eagerly awaits Luz’s future accomplishments as an outstanding leader in the STEM community and is proud to recognize her as Scholar of the Week.

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