I believe firmly in what Julie Andrews Edwards once stated: “Sometimes opportunities float right past your nose. Work hard, apply yourself, and be ready. When an opportunity comes, you can grab it.”

In the beginning of the school year, Dennis Polito, our director of Institutional Advancement at Bishop Conaty-Our Lady of Loretto High School, notified me of a program sponsored by Iridescent Learning Center, located just outside of downtown Los Angeles. I had previously worked with Iridescent last spring through their Technovation Challenge Program. This time, Iridescent offered upper-class students an internship to be student leaders in their Explainers Program. This mentoring program helps elementary and middle school students (ages 8-12) participating in the “Be An Inventor” after-school program. 

The application process was very competitive and included a personal interview with Amy Wood, director of the Explainers Program. I applied myself and was honored to be selected. Although I had current responsibilities with clubs and sports at school, I was able to attend the program on Fridays. 

The internship started in October and lasted through December. But the sacrifice was worth it to be able to help younger students develop science and engineering skills.

My younger brother even joined the after-school program and became very fond of it. We helped students build bridges, skyscrapers, houses with cooling and heating towers attached, and electrical fans for their houses. Once the middle school students left, the high school students would learn about other topics in science and engineering. There were guest speakers like Rodolfo Loera, an employee for Northrop Grumman, who taught us the importance of teamwork and critical thinking in engineering. 

My mentors encourage me to apply myself, focus on my studies, and look forward to college scholarship opportunities. I will never forget this wonderful experience.

Alicia Figueroa is a junior attending Bishop Conaty-Our Lady of Loretto High School, Los Angeles. 

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