MESA Student Leaders Selected for Leadership Conference

MESA student leaders represented UCI at a student leadership conference in Silicon Valley (from left to right): Leslie Rangel, biomedical engineering; Jimmy Juarez, computer engineering; Marlon Pinedo, materials science & engineering; and Christopher Arauzo, mechanical engineering.

Dec. 10, 2021 – Four UC Irvine Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) student leaders connected with industry professionals in Silicon Valley during an invite-only STEM conference. The student leaders are Leslie Rangel, biomedical engineering; Jimmy Juarez, computer engineering; Marlon Pinedo, materials science and engineering; and Christopher Arauzo, mechanical engineering. 

MESA’s Student Leadership Conference brought together hand-picked engineering and computer science students with industry to develop the next generation of STEM leaders. Held at the Hayes Mansion in San Jose on Nov. 5-6, this year’s conference returned to in-person after a COVID-19 hiatus in 2020.

Unlike job fairs or speaker-only conferences, MESA student leaders had the unique opportunity to interact one-on-one and in small groups with company executives, engineers and recruiters. Students participated in mock interviews, communications, team building, emotional intelligence and financial literacy workshops. Many students often leave the conference with internship offers that lead to full-time employment.

“MESA's Student Leadership Conference provides an incredible opportunity for our community college and university students to gain invaluable career development skills and network with leading industry professionals to kick-start their STEM careers,” said MESA Executive Director Thomas Ahn. “Our students represent the skills, passion and potential that California desperately needs to enrich our workforce and strengthen our communities. MESA students are among California's most precious resources for diverse talent in the STEM fields.”

Companies recognize the importance of engaging with and supporting MESA students – so much so they fully fund the conference with donations. Corporate partners understand these are not simply underserved and underrepresented students, they are an underutilized pool of talent that has been long overlooked. 

The MESA program guides diverse students from underrepresented backgrounds into STEM education and careers. MESA has a 51-year history of changing the face of science, technology and engineering by developing a new generation of STEM leaders. Now with a network of more than 250,000 alumni, MESA fuels diversity by propelling historically underrepresented students toward STEM degrees and professional careers.

“It’s been a few years since I’ve personally been to the MESA SLC, so I was really excited to attend this time around along with these four amazing student leaders,” said Marvin Maldonado, interim director of the Stacey Nicholas Office of Access and Inclusion. “Leslie, Marlon, Jimmy and Christopher could not have represented UCI, the School of Engineering, and their student organizations any better. Our MESA family is strong, and we’re only going to get stronger!” 

–  Mindy Rieger / MESA Statewide and Tonya Becerra