The following student experience was written by Juan Ramirez, a Mechanical Engineering senior – and now graduate! – of the Cullen College of Engineering. If you have an account you'd like to share about your educational journey, we'd love to hear it! Please contact Stephen Greenwell, sjgreen2 [at] central.uh.edu.
My name is Juan Ramirez, and I'm originally from Bogota, Colombia. I was born there and raised there until the age of 8, when I came to the United States. I'm now 25. When I was younger, I moved a lot due to my mother's job. I lived in Colombia, Miami, Boston, Providence, and now, Houston. I am also the first person in my family to graduate from a school in the United States.
I started college in 2016. In May 2022, I graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a Minor in Math at the University of Houston. Upon graduation, I will start a full-time position as an Equipment Engineer with my dream company Tesla, working at the Megafactory located in Lathrop, California.
I had no idea what I wanted to do once I graduated high school. I wasn't a good student, and I graduated in the bottom 75 percent of my class, but I knew that I had more potential and decided to attend Lonestar Community College. I soon started working in restaurants so I could save up to buy my first car, pay for school and help my mother. I did that for my first four years of college.
During those first years, I dedicated most of my time to my classes, and because of it, I was able to join a top-tier school, the University of Houston. By the beginning of my junior year. I knew I needed to do more than just get good grades. I decided to get involved in organizations – the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and PROMES scholars.
I quickly saw the impact these organizations had in people's lives. It felt like a family as soon as I joined. Because of joining these organizations, I have met many mentors and past leaders that guided me professionally and academically.
SHPE has been the main reason for my success. It opened doors that four years ago I would have never imagined. I have gotten multiple scholarships and three internships from national conventions and career fairs, with big-name companies like Honeywell, Kiewit and Tesla.
I always knew I wanted to give back to the organization. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I became Career Fair Committee chairman at the Cullen Collee of Engineering, where I coordinated professional events for companies, oversaw our main event the spring and fall career fair, and most importantly, had the chance to help other students reach their career goals. By being part of the CFC, I had the chance to grow my network, become a leader, coach students professionally and speak in front of many people about my experience.
During the fall of 2021, I had the opportunity to intern with Tesla at the Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada. I had always dreamed of working there since I first heard about what they were doing. I mainly worked with the production and process team in the Energy manufacturing sector. I supported the process engineering team and focused on continuous improvements in the manufacturing line.
I will be going back to Tesla after graduation and continue to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. I would have never gotten this opportunity If I didn't make that decision to attend the SHPE General meeting four years ago. It completely changed my life.
Thinking of the place I am right now, it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family, close friends, college colleagues and the grace of God. I want to give special thanks to Janice Quiroz Perez, the director of the Engineering Career Center, and Dr. Jerrod Henderson, Assistant Professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the director of PROMES. Both pushed me, and many other students, to be great! I plan to stay active with the University Of Houston and organizations at the school, to represent minorities in our community and to support as many college students as possible.