Aerospace engineering alum Maira Garcia, a first generation college student, has been selected as the 2021 College of Engineering Outstanding Young Alumni Volunteer.
Since earning her degree, Garcia has landed a full-time job at Honeywell and started a fundraiser for students in the UA Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. The funds go toward sending SHPErs to the organization's national conference. Garcia was a devoted member of the SHPE student chapter during her time on campus.
"I went for the friendship aspect, but I stayed because they did a lot of professional development and outreach," Garcia said. "I realized that if I stayed in SHPE, I was going to become a better engineer."
Garcia and four fellow SHPE alumni – Steven Carrillo, Lucio Cota, Jose Estrada and Mario Valdez – raised $1,250 In 2015 and sent five students to the convention, including Erasmo Quijada, who won the Nissan Design Competition at the conference.
The fundraising team was unsure the conference would happen last year during the pandemic. But even with a late start, they raised $6,400 from 44 donors – more than ever before. The funds sent 16 students to the virtual SHPE conference and provided thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief scholarships.
She has started a post-graduation bucket list and completed touring the student-run UA San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory, attending a UA football game in the College of Engineering VIP suite and giving a keynote speech. She crossed off the keynote speech when she spoke at the UA SHPE’s annual awards banquet in 2016. In 2017, she received the national SHPE Technical Achievement Recognition Professional Role Model Award.
“No matter how much I do, no matter how many talks I give, or how many students I mentor, it will never be enough to repay SHPE,” she wrote in her acceptance speech. “As my mom likes to say, ‘el que siembra en abundancia, en abundancia cosechará,’ which translates to, ‘He who sows in abundance, in abundance he will reap.’ This is the way I have always seen my involvement with SHPE.”