Name: Noe Mora
VISTA Host Site: Cal Poly Pomona, Maximizing Engineering Potential
Alma Mater: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo / Loyola Marymount University
Major: BA Liberal Studies for Elementary Education / MA Guidance and Counseling
Background: During undergrad my very first job was in campus dining. Oh how I loved the free food after working for a couple of hours. I was in the basement of a dining facility chopping fruits and vegetables or making custom salads upstairs. I then sought a job in education as a tutor for a local continuation high school where I tutored at-risk youth pursuing their high school diploma. I also worked with Cal Poly Commencement during graduation ceremonies. I participated in about 5 graduation ceremonies before I officially crossed the stage. It was amazing to see the large gathering of families, students, and university staff to acknowledge another cohort of students receiving a bachelor’s degree.
I joined Lambda Theta Phi during my second year of college and it changed my perspective on life as a student. My first year I questioned if I even wanted to continue on at Cal Poly, the college life was not what I was expecting it to be until I met a group of likeminded individuals who become my second family. We received various awards and recognition for the things we did on and off campus. During my time as president I made it a personal goal to reach out to the local community such as Pacheco Elementary School and SLO Hospice to establish a relationship and let our presence be known beyond the university. Here I learned how to think critically, take initiative, and motivate others to be proactive. Community service became a big part of my college experience and transitioning to a service position like AmeriCorps was something that I know would provide a rewarding experience while getting my foot in the door in a university setting.
Why you serve: I decided to serve because I was looking for a way to enter the realm of higher education. I worked as an Upward Bound Counselor for high school students for three years. Although I loved working with high school students, the high school setting wasn’t ideal for me and felt like I was stuck in a rut. After searching for different opportunities the CSU STEM VISTA position stood out to me because it dealt with poverty, STEM, and student success at the university level. Working with underrepresented populations is my niche and this program has allowed me to better understand the CSU system as a whole and what needs to be done to improve retention rates of students in STEM.
Ah-ha moment: I have learned that there is tremendous demand for multitalented individuals in higher education. When you are working with students and staff at a university you must be able to go from advisor to event coordinator at the drop of a dime. There is never a dull moment in this high paced environment.
Future Goals/Plans: I plan to pursue a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership for Higher Education. My ultimate goal is to become the director of university program such as EOP and be the founder of a non-profit organization that is catered to serving underrepresented communities, providing educational services to families and access to technology. I am using my VISTA year to better understand the struggles of underrepresented students in STEM and it is providing me with an additional year of work experience that I am leveraging as I apply to doctoral programs.