Hi my name is Sonia Camacho I am an incoming 4th year student at Oregon State University. I chose to study computer science because in high school I took all the engineering courses that they had to offer and I liked computer science the best. Initially I did not want to take the engineering classes, I wanted to take pottery and art. My mother knew I loved math and science so she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. I am so grateful for her pushing me to try something new because it has led me to where I am now.
I love being a Latina in STEM and using my platforms to be able to encourage and connect with others in order to change the pipeline of STEM. Latinas only hold around 2% of all computer science jobs, this number needs to change. There is a huge importance in having mentors when growing up. Latinas are one of the demographics that depend on mentorship in order to be successful. I am happy to be able to share my stories and help others see their potential. I know one day there will be more Latinas taking over STEM but for now it is all about promoting and encouraging younger generations to explore the fields.
When I began college I had a lot of feelings of imposter syndrome, I felt like I was not smart enough compared to my peers. Although I had experience with coding prior to college I still felt behind. The transition from high school to university can be really hard and I learned a lot in my first year. It took me an entire year to get my act together and finally shed the feeling of being an imposter. I try to stay positive and remind myself of how far I have come and how bright my future will be. I also got involved with clubs and organizations on campus that focus on underrepresented minorities in STEM as well as women in computing. After meeting more people like me I felt a sense of belonging.
Some advice for future students: just go for it! STEM is challenging and makes you think outside the box, but that’s what’s fun about it! It won’t be easy but nothing worth having comes easy. Plus you can do so much with STEM, don’t be scared that you will get a 9-5 job in a cubicle, math and science is EVERYWHERE!