Team 4 Scholars

Team member Lizbeth Salmeron talks about her experience with AISS this month: “ The anticipation of learning about college acceptances was causing me uncertainty. Over the last few days, I learned my hard work paid off based on the colleges that accepted me. I honestly didn’t have much confidence in myself that I was going to get into them. The next step is looking at the financial aspect. AISS really helped me focus on comparing each college and learning the ‘rule of thumb for student loans,’ important in deciding how much debt I can afford to pay after graduation.” 

One of Team 4's favorite guest speakers would have to be Dr. Yaron Zoller, a Lecturer on Organizations and Strategic Management of the Business Scholars program at the Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In his third workshop with us, he shared research showing how Stress can be a good thing. We also enjoyed a Team-Building workshop led by Dr. Marcos Ortega, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, California State University, Fullerton. 

All AISS Scholars have been learning the importance of choosing the right college for them weighing factors such as environment, financial aid, and major. We met with our Edwards Lifesciences mentors via Emmy Solorzano, Change Management Coordinator and Cynthia Ong, the HOLA Program Facilitator and Research Scientist. HOLA’s vision is to enhance the talent of all employees to increase leadership impact to Edwards and to the local Hispanic community. During the general session, we presented our AISS Scholar Vision Boards and Top 3 College acceptances. Making these helped organize our thoughts and concerns about which campus would be the best fit environment and financial wise. In Breakout Rooms, we had a Q&A with our individual Edwards Lifesciences mentors. They gave us great advice on college decisions, college life, and dealing with stress during college. We felt a sense of relief afterward because we gained a new perspective on the college experience. 

With the May 1st SIR (Statement of Intent to Register) deadline looming, all of us are weighing our options on which college we will decide to attend. Wilton Phung is thinking about UC Riverside. Lizbeth Salmeron has her eyes set on Boston University. Elena Lopez is hoping to attend UCI or UCLA. Melanie Zepeda is looking at UC Davis and Cal Poly SLO. Although we are unsure of where exactly we want to attend, we are all looking forward to the next chapter of our lives. We are excited to begin our college journey and work towards our dream STEM careers.

Scholar Spotlight

As a devoted student at Godinez Fundamental High School, located in Santa Ana, California, with a GPA of 3.8, Lesley Torres is taking the necessary steps in preparing for the upcoming college admissions process. She aims to major in the neurological fields of science while being able to trail her passion for the criminal justice system. As a career, she plans on entering the law-abiding side of our justice system and advancing the current levels of scientific research in presenting worldwide solutions to the nonlegal perspectives of crime and delinquency. Lesley has experience with taking charge and being a leader. This is shown throughout her high school career and her position as ASB Senate President for the school year of 2020-2021. She is ultimately fueled by her wanting for a brighter future and prosperous life. Lesley takes pride in her day-to-day task: including her best of works. As an excellent leader, Lesley brings forth inclusive communication skills, unique problem-solving abilities, and overall accountability towards her work. 

Alumni Spotlight

I graduated from Segerstrom High School Class of 2017. My family and I are really excited for my upcoming graduation from UC Irvine with a degree in biomedical engineering, premed major, and psychology minor. Like many scholars from AISS, I am a first-generation college student from a low-income background. Such qualities have inspired me to be that helping hand I received as a minority and implement them through my passion, STEM.

I'm especially thankful to AISS Founder Paul Riordan, who felt it in his heart a duty to help students achieve their dreams through education. I'm also thankful to Executive Director Debbie Wells for her tenacity in moving the program forward. Their intervening support gave me the motivation I needed to pursue a challenging career.

During AISS, I learned invaluable soft skills that prepared me for the clinical setting I was to experience as a premed. Their field trips and networking fairs also helped me develop the people skills I would later use as an undergraduate researcher. After I graduate college, I plan to continue my clinical experiences and return to my community in Santa Ana who has supported me all along. Meanwhile, I will be preparing for the Medical College Admission Test and applying to medical school. 

Read More about Paul Riordan - Our AISS Founder 

Supporter Spotlight

My dedication to equalizing educational opportunities for all students is what drew me to AISS. I am originally from El Paso, Texas, a border town in the southwest. The community is rich in culture, and family ties run deep, but higher education is not always stressed or understood in all communities. I was lucky to receive a scholarship to a selective college in Iowa, Grinnell College. I was a good student in high school, but the challenges posed by a different culture and the demanding academics overwhelmed me.
With the support of faculty, staff, and my family, I adapted and eventually graduated with a chemistry degree. As my friends and peers pursued medicine and law opportunities, I decided to pursue more education by attending graduate school to obtain my Ph.D. Through my undergraduate and graduate careers, I continually noticed a lack of diversity at all levels. I knew this lack of diversity was not due to less academic capabilities in communities of color; it lacked exposure and a lack of opportunities to drive these deficiencies. I decided to dedicate my career to higher education by addressing these deficiencies through outreach work. I have continued this work as a biochemistry professor by ensuring all students see their value and realize their full potential. I connected with AISS through a board member, Lisette Martinez, and was able to speak with scholars about college and my life path. I joined the board of AISS shortly after because the organization's mission speaks to my life’s work, equalizing educational opportunities for all students. I continue to work with AISS scholars directly. I will continue to do my part in ensuring we are preparing them to graduate from college and prepare them to diversify STEM fields and impact their communities in positive ways.

Read more about Marcos Ortega - Our AISS Board Member  
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