Viviana Arrunategui Norvick
- Gender: Female
- Major: Electrical Engineering
- University: Brown University
Born and raised in San Bernardino, California, Viviana Arrunategui Norvick remembers spending time with her father as a child, and watching as he performed his job as an alarm system installation technician. At one point, she asked if he would teach her the skill, but he refused. She recalls that this surprised her, until he explained that he wanted her to go to college, and pursue something different for herself. Both he and Viviana’s mother lacked the opportunity for a higher education, and they were adamant that she should pursue her own. “Education and knowledge were seen as something that could never be taken away, and something that was a stepping stone to success,” she says.
Inspired by her father’s encouragement, she embarked on her college career and, this fall, will begin her senior year at Brown University, where she studies Electrical Engineering, with aspirations of pursuing a PhD in Photonics and Electrical Engineering, to become a professor and researcher.
As a student, she has been active in many engineering-focused organizations, both on and off campus. She is currently a team member of Engineering Medical Care Change, which is working on designing electrical components for a system prototype to monitor and diagnose epilepsy, and she tutors Algebra and Intro to Engineering to high school students through the Swearer Tutoring and Enrichment in Math and Science (STEMS) program. In 2017, she was the Engineering Program Coordinator for Spira, a summer camp improving access to STEM training for young women and gender non-conforming high school students.
Her achievements have earned her national recognition and created opportunities for further growth. She is both a Gates Millennium Scholar and an HSF Scholar, and was a 2019 Female HSF Scholar of the Year Finalist, at the HSF Leaders in Education Awards. Additionally, she received the Bonner Community Fellowship, which “aims to combine a student’s community engagement with their academic and career goals” and participated in BOLT (Brown Outdoor Leadership Training), a program committed to “leadership development, community, mentorship, the environment, and education.”
Last September, Viviana was one of 118 Scholars invited to attend HSF’s STEM Summit. The event is an annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math conference that provides top HSF Scholars with an inside track to career success in STEM fields, through a combination of mentoring, leadership development, professional insights, career guidance, and internship and job opportunities.
She associates the HSF network with support and empowerment and says, “[Because of HSF], I now have access to people and knowledge that will better enable me to be successful. As a first-generation, low-income student, I had little college guidance before I entered university.... Being in the HSF network means that although I may not have the skills now, I have the resources to gain them.”
Viviana encourages students who are considering college to be brave, recognizing that, while college may seem daunting, it is indeed possible. “The difficulties in your past only strengthen you and make you that much more of a better candidate for any college,” she says. “Your background, family, and previous education do not define your future. At the end of the day, your success will be based on your passion and hard work, and it is up to you to take the leap that will propel you to success.”