My name is Alejandra Perez, and I am a senior at the University of Rochester, majoring in Neuroscience. When I am not in school, I live with my parents and my siblings, in the other side of the country, in Compton California. So how did I end up here? I first heard of Rochester during a presentation in one of my classes. A representative from the University of Rochester emphasized the freedom of the curriculum, the rigor of the classes and the strength of research found in the U of R. I loved the fact that I could take any classes I wanted without taking many general education classes most people take in state universities. I was also very excited about the fact that the school had a strong curriculum in sciences, being that for the last four years, I had attended the California Academy of Mathematics and Science, a magnet High School in California. I decided to apply because I loved the idea of exploring a completely different environment from what I had known from in California for the last ten years. Once I received my acceptance letter in the mail in March 2009, it was set in stone that I would be living in Rochester for the next four years. I was definitely not prepared for the winter… or the sudden weather changes at all.
For as long as I remember, I have always been intrigued about how things work, always asking “Why?” I think this constant search or questioning is what lead me to be interested in science. While growing up my mother always encouraged me to do well in school. I think that my passion for learning, coupled with the idea of a better future for me and my family is what lead to pursue a career in science. I loved the fact that I could work towards obtaining a great career while doing things I loved doing: reading, writing, experimenting, etc. The path I took to get where I am now, was definitely not easy. I never counted with anyone to help me with homework or projects. It was hard being that my parents didn’t speak English. Instead, I was the person being relied on to help my siblings learn how to read, or how to do math. And I always wished, I had someone who could help me figure things out, someone who could guide me in the right direction. I think, this is the main reason why I joined Science Stars last year. I want to help the girls in any way possible, and tell them that it will be okay, that dreams do come true and that hard work does pay off. I think it would have been really helpful if I had that when I was in Middle School or High School. I just never anticipated how devoted I would be to the program, or the great personal connections I would make with the girls.
Although I won’t be there every Thursday this fall due to scheduling conflicts, I can’t wait to see how this STARS will turn out.