Eight Students from Santa Ana High Schools Rocket to JPL for Paid Summer Internships

Eight Santa Ana high school students have been hired for paid summer internships at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, so hopefully the kids have developed a way to propel themselves over Southern California traffic to reach La CaƱada Flintridge.


The students were introduced Monday at the Santa Ana High School garden. They are:

* Century High School's Rosa Yanes, who wants to major in engineering with a focus on
mechanical engineering. Her dream school is MIT, but she will also apply to Stanford, Harvard, Berkley and Cal Tech as safety schools. While in eighth grade, a teacher told her she should be a mathematician. She was encouraged by high school teachers and advisers to apply for the JPL internship.

* Godinez Fundamental High School's Paula Casian, who is interested in civil engineering and plans to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She was part of the ACE (Architect, Construction, & Engineering Mentor Program of America) team for Orange County that exposes students to project-based learning, industry mentors and insights into the math and science industry.

* Godinez's Troyce Morales, who plans to apply to UC Berkeley and major in mathematics and engineering. He has been involved in ACE and Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) at his high school. He jumped at the chance to apply for the JPL program.

* Saddleback High School's Denise Garcia, who plans to apply to Columbia and Stanford but is undecided on whether to pursue a degree in engineering or medicine. She's been interested in math and science since she was a little girl and was inspired by her brother, who is studying to be a mechanical engineer. Last summer, Denise participated in UC Irvine's Camp Cardiac program.

* Saddleback's An Ho, who cites his science teachers Mr. Sandquist (physics) and Mr. Wren (AP chemistry) as his inspirations. Ho believes the JPL summer internship will lay the engineering foundation of being able to solve the mysteries of life. He plans to apply to
Stanford or USC and major in mechanical engineering or computer science.

* Saddleback's Luis Terrones, who has enjoyed since a young age solving difficult problems using his own methods of logic. He credits his high school math and science teachers from being his inspirations as well as an engineer who mentored him at the Upward Bound program through Santa Ana College. Luis plans to apply to MIT, Stanford and Cal Tech and major in either software engineering or computer science.

* Segerstrom High School's Michelle Tran will apply to UC Irvine and UC Davis, where
she plans to major in either aerospace or electrical engineering. She credits her cousin, who is earning his Ph.D. in mathematics, with inspiring her. Michelle also surrounds herself with friends who have similar interests in math and science, which is how she heard about the JPL summer internship opportunity.

OpTerra Energy Services, one of the nation's largest independent energy efficiency and renewable energy companies, partnered with the Orange County Department of Education and OC Pathways to provide paid positions within JPL's SpaceSHIP internship program to the eight students who recently completed their junior years in the Santa Ana Unified School District.

Each intern will be assigned to a JPL science or engineering mentor, and though their specific tasks will vary, all participants will be contributing to the work of their JPL mentors, advancing projects through real technical contributions. “Participants in the program will not be doing administrative or clerical work; they will be contributing to the missions of the laboratory in a high-expectations environment,” says OC Pathways.

Throughout the summer, the students will be provided with seminars, tours, brown bag discussions, peer social events and other enrichment opportunities to learn more about JPL, careers and skills, such as resume writing and preparing and delivering professional presentations.

“After their summer experience, they will have a much-improved sense of their own abilities as well as the nature of work in a professional environment, the desired qualifications they'll need to pursue in college and subsequent career opportunities,” organizers say.

Naturally, Monday's event was attended by representatives of the OC Department of Education, OC Pathways, JPL, Santa Ana Unified, OpTerra Energy Services, the student awardees and their families.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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