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HSF Scholars

Elizabeth Vasquez

  • Gender: Female
  • Major: Mechanical Engineering
  • University: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ms. Vasquez grew up in South Texas, the youngest of three children. Her parents grew up in impoverished circumstances, but were able to go to college and earn degrees. She says this made all the difference in their being able to provide a comfortable life for their family and contribute to their community. Their example has inspired her to pursue a degree to help “change the world.”

She explains that one of her greatest challenges in life has been coping with the fact that many people don’t take her seriously because of her diminutive stature and youthful appearance. But she adds that this has also forced her to win others’ respect, one person at a time. The result: Instead of giving up or letting people underestimate her, she has become bolder and more determined.

Today, she is a sophomore at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, with the help of an HSF scholarship and several others. In addition to classwork, she does undergraduate research on energy-efficient solutions for clean water supplies and is on the Solar Electric Vehicle Team. She is also a community coordinator for the MIT Tech Catholic Community and participates in student government.

In September, Ms. Vasquez was one of the top 150 Scholars invited to attend HSF’s first annual Career Symposium. The Career Symposium is a conference that introduces top HSF Scholars to current internship and full-time employment opportunities with HSF’s corporate partners. She also attended HSF’s STEM Summit. 

“With my HSF scholarship, I don’t have to worry as much about money,” she said, “and I can spend more of my time studying and getting the most out of my education.” She also appreciates the support system she has acquired through HSF and having the chance to experience, in a way she hadn’t previously, that she belongs to a thriving Hispanic community.

She was recently recognized as one of five 2017 HSF Female Scholar of the Year Finalists at HSF’s Leaders in Education Awards. HSF’s Leaders in Education Awards (LEA) recognizes the work and achievements of HSF Scholars and parents, community organizations, and educational partners for the advancement of higher education for the Latino community.

After she finishes her Mechanical Engineering degree, she wants to work in the space industry while also attending graduate school. Ultimately, she wants to start a non-profit engineering company that “implements solutions to adversities” for financially-challenged communities.

She wants up and coming students to know that college widens people’s perspectives, helps them become who they want to be, and gives them the tools to make a difference. “Instead of simply seeing a problem, you can be the one to fix it,” she adds. “You become the master of a life filled with new, exciting opportunities.”