Scholar of the Week



Rene Velasco      
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign




Rene Velasco has just entered his sophomore year as a civil engineering major, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he has demonstrated academic success with a cumulative grade point average of 3.1. His active involvement in school, driven work ethic, and personal motivation has earned him a $500 scholarship sponsored by Najera Consulting Group, Inc., as a 2013 HENAAC Scholar. It is evident that Rene embodies critical leadership qualities such as teamwork and dedication. Rene became very involved in the Concrete Canoe Team and The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) during his first year of college. He held office in SHPE as the High School Outreach Director, on the Executive Board, planning high school visits for underrepresented students. Rene was also Alumni Chair on the Junior Executive Board. As Alumni Chair, Rene organized job shadows with SHPE alumni who worked in various local engineering firms, where he helped member’s gain a better understanding of a dynamic engineering work environment. Rene was not only able to attend every job shadow he organized, he was one of three freshmen out of 25, in SHPE, that obtained a summer internship with one of the shadowing companies, Engineering Resource Associates. Rene's drive and dedication also won him SHPE's Most Improved Freshmen Award. Rene's scholarly and extracurricular achievements have earned the respect of his professors. His peers also esteem him for his willingness to help even if it means going out of his way. In the future, Rene aspires to start his own civil engineering consulting firm to work in transportation and construction management. He plans to stay active by giving back to the Hispanic community and, specifically, students pursuing a STEM degree. In his words, "We need a world where Hispanics are highly valued and influential as leading innovators, scientist, mathematicians and engineers." Indeed, Rene is well on his way to becoming a leading innovator.

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