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Cullen College student honored with Hispanic Heritage Youth Activist Award
Stephen Greenwell
Yonatan Mascorro, an undergraduate studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, is the recipient of the 2020 Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Youth Activist Award.
Yonatan Mascorro, an undergraduate studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, is the recipient of the 2020 Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Youth Activist Award.

Since January of this year, undergraduate Yonatan Mascorro of the Cullen College of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering program has started a new morning regime – push-ups.

“Well, I started this 25 push-up routine back in January of this year, while working as an R&D Design Engineering Co-op at Toyota North America,” he said. “I found myself still feeling sleepy and lazy when getting out of bed in the morning. I decided to start doing 25 push-ups to shake off that laziness and get the blood flowing, and I've continued with this routine ever since. I find myself more alert and ready for the day after doing this simple routine. It sets the tone for it to be a successful productive day.”

That sort of attention to detail and work ethic is a reflection of other parts of his life and studies as well, as Mascorro was honored by Houston mayor Sylvester Turner with the 2020 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Youth Activist Award. He was nominated for the award by Fely Aguilar – the Academic Achievers Program Director at UH, and also Mascorro’s boss and advisor at various points – and she called him to let him know he had won.

“She shared this information with a lot of excitement, and I felt great, because she has been key to my academic and professional growth,” Mascorro said. “When I told my parents, Monica and Isidoro, and my sister Michel that I had won the award, they congratulated me and emphasized how proud they are of me. My family is what motivates me to continuously strive for greatness.”

Aguilar said she was happy to provide the nomination for Mascorro's award.

“Yonatan is a kind young man with outstanding character, integrity and tremendous math skills,” she said. “He was a mentor for the Academic Achievers Program high school component and provided tutoring in different subjects. During his time as a mentor, he would always encourage students to excel in school, prioritize their schoolwork and instill self-confidence.”

She added, “Most importantly, he always reminded them that they could accomplish their dreams of obtaining a college education and establish a career if they were diligent. One of the best qualities Yonatan possesses is his natural delight in helping people. He is always kind, always generous, consistently engaging. Yonatan’s academic record and involvement at UH demonstrate his drive and commitment to his education. I anticipate that he will continue to excel as an outstanding leader and professional in our community.”

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, Mascorro’s strong academics and his community involvement were reasons why he was selected for the award.

“Growing up in the East End of Houston, Yonatan graduated at the top of his class from Stephen F. Austin High School,” the statement read. “During his first three years of college, he was a program mentor for the Academic Achievers Program, where he mentored and encouraged 25 students to excel in their calculus, physics and chemistry courses. Within a two-year time frame, he was able to guide low-performing students to the top 10 percent of their graduating class. Yonatan is now a first-generation college student pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston. He is passionate about STEM and giving back to his East End Community. Yonatan is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Latinos in Science and Engineering. In these programs, he organizes various STEM-related events for high school students and encourages them to reach their highest aspirations.”

Mascorro said he was drawn to UH because of a positive experience with a professional mechanical engineering during his junior year of high school. The engineer was brought to the high school as part of an event by the Academic Achievers Program.

“He really got me interested in the field, and he described to me how I could be able to pretty much work at any company I would want to because of how broad Mechanical Engineering is,” Mascorro said. “This convinced me to at least try it. Taking sophomore and junior-level courses is what made me truly passionate about pursuing a career in this field. I loved the challenge of these classes and how they applied to real-life scenarios. Acing most of my engineering classes is what brings me the most satisfaction, and that’s contributed to me having a GPA of 3.83.”

Currently, Mascorro intends to graduate in December 2021, and he’s keeping his options for his future career open.

“My plan has always been to dedicate my engineering career to a profession that will make a meaningful impact on the world, for the better,” he said. “Having interned at the Boston Scientific Corporation, Toyota North America, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, I have been able to get an idea of in what industries I could really make the impact in the world that I desire. I am definitely still keeping my options open, but I believe I would like to work at a company that is helping with the advancement of technology, while also providing meaningful and innovative products that will improve the quality of life of the people.”

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