Name: Blake Lopez
Host Site: California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB)
Alma Mater: California State University, Bakersfield
Major: Engineering Sciences
Background: Throughout my time at CSUB, I have worked as: a morning Dock Associate at FedEx Freight, an English and Math tutor for the Supplemental Educational Services, an Engineering Transfer Mentor at the local Junior College, and an intern at the CSUB Fabrication Lab. These positions, and my current CSU STEM VISTA role, have helped guide me toward my goal of becoming a teacher in STEM fields, especially mathematics. Ironically, I was the typical student who would go to class and leave immediately without spending unnecessary time on campus. Now, my position requires me to be involved with all of the STEM clubs for the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering (NSME) and many other extracurricular activities on campus.
Why you serve: I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young adults pursuing a career in STEM. As a recent graduate of CSUB in a STEM major, I knew I could make a difference and help bridge the gap between school and the workforce ultimately benefiting the students at CSUB. Prior to committing to VISTA, I knew I wanted to work within the field of education and my VISTA year has opened my eyes to where I want to spend my career.
Accomplishments: Since my position entails doing outreach for NSME, one of my outreach connections was with China Lake Naval Base. The CSUB’s Engineering program is close to accreditation, so we have been working to build a relationship with the different military bases in Eastern Kern County. Other CSUB staff members and I were able to work out an in-depth tour of the base for some of our engineering students. From this tour we built a working relationship for students, staff, and faculty with China Lake. After communicating with China Lake, they helped us contact Edwards Air Force Base and build a relationship with them as well. CSUB students and faculty plan on visiting Edwards Air Force Base this upcoming Fall semester.
Future Goals/Plans: I’m starting the CSUB credential program in fall of 2017 and hopefully a Master’s in Education program shortly after earning my credentials. As measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (2011), “roughly 75 percent of U.S. 8th graders are not proficient in mathematics when they complete 8th grade” (National Research Council, pg. 3). My goal is to help change this statistic and many other negative statistics surrounding STEM education. Throughout my VISTA experience, I work and communicate with many different STEM professionals that have shared their success stories and experiences which I look forward to sharing with my future students. For example, I have met a Petroleum Engineer who failed Kindergarten, because he couldn’t speak English but managed to overcome and graduate from the University of Southern California. Another example is a professional with Chevron who worked in the fields growing up helping support his family. His work ethic in the fields guided him to the person he is today. He’s still supporting his family, providing his parents the opportunity to never work another day in their life. Stories like these are inspiring to people at all levels of education and act as a great motivator to youth.
National Research Council (2011). Successful K-12 STEM education: Identifying effective approaches in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. National Academies Press.