Scholar of the Week

Patrick Sellas      
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Patrick Sellas is entering his senior year at the Kellogg Honors College at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona where he is majoring in mechanical engineering. Patrick is a Class of 2014 HENAAC Scholar receiving a Chrysler Foundation scholarship. He also received the 2012 HENAAC-NAVSEA/SPAWAR scholarship and the HENAAC/U.S. Navy STEM Scholarship in 2013. Patrick considers himself lucky because he has the advantage of having two strong role models in his life who helped him realize the possibilities for Hispanics in the STEM fields – his grandfather who gained an education through military service where he became a radar specialist for the U.S. Air Force and then worked for the Apollo Space Program and the Northrop Stealth Bomber; and his father, who is an electrical engineer.

From the books he chose to read as a child to the anticipation of participating in his annual elementary school science fair, he has always loved science. In high school, he competed in the physics “Walk on Water Challenge” where he designed an apparatus to walk across the school pool and the “Egg Drop Competition” where he created a box with a suspension system that allowed him to drop an egg from a very high distance without breaking.

Throughout his life, Patrick has been encouraged to explore, build and problem solve. His passion for engineering continues to fuel the pursuit of his degree. Instead of dreading difficult core courses, he stands out in them due to his relentless desire to know the course material and enjoy it.

STEM leaders must have a strong sense of community. Patrick is active in spreading the benefits of a STEM degree to youth. He has had the opportunity, on occasion to speak to groups of pre-college students, who visit the university campus. As a Student and Parent Orientation Leader for Cal Poly Pomona Orientation Services, he is responsible for ensuring the 24-hour safety and wellbeing of group participants during three day student orientations. He has provided 5,200 Incoming Cal Poly Pomona students and parents with academic guidance and personal development advising, and assisted with student class registration and conducted small and large public speaking presentations. In addition, Patrick has also volunteered for the Cesar Chavez Center, and participated in the annual Dia de Los Muertos festival on-campus.

Patrick recognizes that it takes a lot of hard work, patience, and knowledge to be a STEM leader. He looks forward to using his degree to create innovative products that will serve to enhance the world around him. He is extremely proud to be a Hispanic engineering student and hopes that, like his grandfather and father, he can serve as an example for others to follow.

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