Muskie attends national summit

Junior chosen from pool of 80,000 to attend Hispanics in STEM conference

written by: mo juenger, world news editor
Photo courtesy of Instagram
Marina Salazar (bottom right) was chosen to attend the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation’s STEM summit

Each summer, approximately 80,000 college students across the country apply to attend the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s (HSF) extremely competitive National Leadership Conference (NLC). 

This year, Xavier’s own junior computer science major Marina Salazar was admitted. 

The HSF gives approximately 10,000 of their applicants scholarships, which range in levels of funding. 

The winners of these scholarships will be announced in October, but Salazar has received communication letting her know that she is a finalist eligible to receive a scholarship. 

The NLC, an intimate gathering of highly-successful STEM students, comprises only 100 of the 80,000 applicants. Salazar learned over the summer that she was invited to participate in the event. 

“I applied because a previous student at Xavier told me about it,” Salazar said. “She was a really important mentor to me.”

“I had no faith that I would get in. I thought, ‘No way in hell (they would choose) someone like me’,” she added. 

The conference is populated by Hispanic and Latinx STEM students from high-ranking universities, including many Ivy League juniors and seniors. 

“I applied, I didn’t even tell my parents… When I heard back that I got in, I freaked out,” Salazar said. “If it wasn’t for that mentorship that I got from that upperclassman, I wouldn’t even have applied.” 

The NLC focuses on Hispanic students studying STEM subjects. Conference speakers included representatives from NASA, the U.S. Navy, video game company Electronic Arts and several banks. 

“It really accounted for all sectors of STEM — banking, technology, engineering. It was really awesome to see that wide variety,” Salazar exclaimed. 

Salazar noted that many speakers focused on life after college and what tools students need to be successful after graduation. 

“(There were) career focused segments, mostly about how to manage life after college. They would say what they did in college that helped in the real world,” Salazar said of the industry professionals’ speeches. 

There were also panels in which students could ask professionals about their journeys into STEM careers and how a student could find a job in their preferred sector. 

Speakers at the convention were also Hispanic, as a major theme of the conference is empowerment of Hispanic and Latinx students.

HSF CEO Fidel Vargas facilitated the speakers, panels and sessions onstage. 

“The purpose of the NLC is to bring together our top sophomore scholars to provide them with guidance, mentorship and leadership development,” Vargas said. 

“(The NLC) continues to… expose them to other Latino accomplished leaders in whatever professions those are, and to give them inspiration and motivation,” NLC speaker and president of corporate communications at Wells Fargo Diana Rodriguez said. 

HSF will announce scholarship recipients in late October. Students interested in applying for the HSF and the NCL programs in 2021 should research further on the organization’s website.