Why did you choose engineering at CU Boulder?
I chose the engineering program at CU Boulder because the day I came for a campus tour, it just felt right. I fell in love with the campus, and the environment. In addition, the ranking of the Computer Science program here in CU Boulder is the highest in the state, there was no doubt I was going to receive the best education. The program here also allows you to take courses in different programs such as music, philosophy, psychology, and they all count towards your elective credits. I knew that coming to CU Boulder was the perfect place to grow not only in the engineering field, but in many other aspects of my life like socially and culturally.
What does the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag mean to you?
I remember while growing up, several people suggested me to give up my dream on being an engineer or pursuing a career in the STEM field because it was a field dominated by men. Moreover, I am Latina and half-black, it was hard for people to see who I really was beyond the stereotypes of these two ethnicities. #LookLikeAnEngineer breaks all the stereotypes and shows the world that to be an engineer you don't need to fit in certain category, you just need to be impassioned about it and work hard to overcome the challenges.
What are three things that make you unique?
I am a daughter of an Afro-Peruvian father and a Mexican mother, raised in Mexico since I was 1 year old. Came back to this country at the age of 20 knowing zero English. I am 28 years old now so I am not a traditional student.
What are your career goals?
After obtaining my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, I am planning on working in the field as Software Engineer for about 2 years before going back to school to obtain my Master's degree either in Law to go into Patent Law, or in Computer Science to continue growing in the Software Engineering field.
What are your hobbies?
Going to the movies, going to dance, and traveling.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
What do you enjoy most about engineering?
Being able to work in groups of people with different backgrounds to achieve a common goal that can potentially help many people in the world.
What is your favorite engineering experience?
In one of my classes at School of Mines we had to make an inside garden that could provide a year-round supply of fresh vegetables. The purpose was to help individuals and families living in "food desert areas" which are urban communities that do not have access to fresh food. We made one that was available for all types of families, and easy to arrange according to the families necessities, for example for people in wheel chair, kids, elder, etc. It was modular and easy to use. I loved and greatly enjoyed building something that was going to help a community.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I know many people hear intimidating things about engineering, but don't listen. Engineering is challenging but is not impossible. We are the architects of our lives and we all can achieve what we want by working hard and never giving up in our dreams. Don't listen to those who are trying to bring you down or trying to tell you what you should be doing based on your gender, religion, ethnicity, etc, just follow your passion and accept only constructive criticism, the rest, leave it behind.
Erika Bailon, Class of 2020, CCH Azcapotzalco in Mexico City, Computer Science