Yesenia Duarte is a 2019 Compton College graduate who transferred to California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) this fall as a chemistry major. She is interested in possibly pursuing a career as a forensic scientist. Last summer, she was selected for and participated in the CSULB Summer Bridge to the Beach program, a nine-week research program for incoming Latino and Pell Grant eligible STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) transfer students. The program ignited Duarte's growing interest in the field of scientific research. She is now considering pursuit of a doctorate degree.
In addition to her classes, Duarte spends about four to eight hours each week working in a research lab at CSULB that is conducting research in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Currently, the researchers in the lab are tasked with looking for new methods to develop devices for a sustainable energy cycle. "The entire lab is working to stop the effects of global warming and other things harming the environment as it is important for human survival." said Duarte. "We are working to come up with solutions to world problems. I like that we are trying to do something to help instead of ignoring these problems."
Duarte credits many of Compton College's student services and resources for helping her along her educational path, especially the STEM Center. "While taking an intermediate algebra for science class, STEM Center Coordinator Lorena Fonseca visited our class to promote the benefits of using the STEM Center." said Duarte. "I never ended up going to the STEM Center at that time and I failed my math class. After that, I started going to the center religiously for tutoring and studying, and continued until I graduated." The STEM Center staff regularly informs students, who use the center, about scholarship and internship opportunities that help advance students' experience and academic success. "I was encouraged to apply for the CSULB Summer Bridge to the Beach program by Ms. Fonseca and I'm so thankful for her mentorship and guidance." said Duarte.
"Compton College's programs like First Year Experience (FYE), Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, and the STEM Center impacted me in a good way because Iâ€™m somewhat shy and those programs forced me to go outside of my comfort zone and interact with people." said Duarte. "I had an incredible peer mentor in FYE; it was great to have someone to turn to when I was struggling or needed to find resources. She helped me navigate my first year in college and I wanted to pay it forward and provide that same resource to other students, so I became an FYE peer mentor as well."
In addition, Duarte became a chemistry workshop leader at Compton College to help tutor other students, a position she still holds even though she has transferred. â€œI want to help make chemistry enjoyable for students, or at least make it less stressful." said Duarte. "Leading chemistry workshops also helps me stay familiar with the material."
Speaking from personal experience, Duarte offers some good advice for all college students: "Seek out all the resources available on campus to help you, especially when you need it most. I didn't have a support system for my education when I first started college. It is crucial for any student who may be doubting themselves to speak up and ask for help."