A few months ago, we had the pleasure of interviewing Emely Villeda Principe, an inspiring Latina in S.T.E.M., about her life story. Emely is such a talented young woman, and a true devoted pioneer in the field of engineering. She is truly an example of having a dream and pursuing it, and not letting anything get in your way.
We had the pleasure of speaking with her on the phone and asking her about her job and share some of her wisdom with you.
How did you become interested in S.T.E.M. and why were you drawn to it? Was it something that started as a kid, or something you learned about when you became older, just tell us a little bit about that.
“I’ve always really been into academics and art. I had interests in math and science but for a long time I was interested in art and kind of wanted to pursue a career in that, in design. Entering high school with the mindset that I had, I wasn’t thinking about engineering, I was thinking more about how I could do something in graphic design or something else in art. It wasn’t until I took a class my junior year, it was an elective I needed for my class schedule, I just kind of took to thinking that it was fine as long as I talked and maybe learned a bit from it.
The class was really fun for me, I loved solving the little problems our teacher presented us, like programming and trying to compete with my classmates and figure out how to program these problems and resolve them. There was just an appeal of thinking in this new way and I still have my love of art, and I’ve found a way to combine them both with my programming and computing which combines my love for engineering and art, and that’s what led me to where I am today.”
Who is one of your major inspirations in S.T.E.M.?
“I have a lot of figures that I know of, one of the biggest ones is Grace Hopper, because when I was first entering STEM, I wasn’t really aware of what was going on, and there is a big minority in women, Hispanics, particularly, so in turn I didn’t really think of that until I really got into programming, everything about STEM. So, like other girls, I look to those other women in this field. But one of them that I kept seeing everywhere is Grace Hopper, because she helped pioneer this for women.”
What are particular challenges that you’ve had of being a female Latina in this field? As you mentioned, it is a minority, what challenges have you been faced with?
“I guess the biggest challenge has been finding other mentors to know where I come from, have my background and understand where I’m coming from. There are female mentors out there, but not all of them are Latina, so just having that extra bit of heritage and background can really also help when I’m looking for someone to navigate me through this field. Thankfully, I have been able to find others like me and mentors, not only through my scholarship but my internship program, but it’s really helped a lot to get this far.”
Since you are Latina, do you incorporate that into your day-to-day work and how do you bring forward the fact of your heritage to help other people be drawn to S.T.E.M.?
“Being Latina in programming is not exactly something I can bring, but it’s definitely in my art and design, I have those influences. Programming and STEM itself is just a matter of showing others who have attended High Tech that you are an example of a Latino who is in STEM and is working to succeed, so it’s not something out of reach.
Also, at SMU I have participated in events that are similar to High Tech Day with our own organizations, and it’s just something for our youth to show them that you can go into whatever field you want, regardless of minority from the field.”
Why do you think it’s important for other young Latinos and Latinas to get involved in S.T.E.M.?
“I would have to say it’s very important because it is a field that is growing and it’s so interesting and has so much potential to evolve. It needs as many people interested as possible, and especially with minorities in the Latino youth, we need to get them in because diversity really does help bring in more different points of view, more different ways of thinking, and that’s what drives innovation. Truly, if you have people who all think the same, and have the same background, you can only get so far. You need to add those other people, and that’s what we all strive for.”
How would you encourage other young Latinos who have dreams, who maybe don’t have that support system, to follow their dreams in their career in S.T.E.M. or whatever other field?
“They shouldn’t let the negativity of all the people around them get them down because it is your life and if this is something you want to pursue, go for it. You can find resources and others in similar situations who can help be your support system, if it’s not family or close friends, you can go seek out those mentors, because they are out there and they can help. Just don’t give up.”
Emely is truly inspiring us to think big and to always do our best, and because of her we are excited to learn more about being a part of S.T.E.M. and AT&T’s High Technology Day. AT&T brings the amazing opportunity for youth nationwide to learn more about S.T.E.M. by bringing together schools and amazing presenters like Emely to teach you about the difference you can make in the ever changing modern world of technology.
We encourage you to attend one of these incredible conventions near you and learn more about how you can think creatively and bring your uniqueness to your class, team, or family.
And also, stay tuned until next week, where we will share more about Emely and specifically about S.T.E.M. and how you can get involved.