Jonathan Vega

When I met Mary Ann I had a keen instinct that engineering or a STEM major was for me and it was the path of life that I wanted to follow.  But before I talk about how Mary Ann was my mentor, I think it is important to mention where my keen instinct came from. In middle school I was able to participate in an engineering technology class due to the magnet program. I was exposed to basic engineering principles like how to build water bottle rockets, draw with CAD, work with CNC’s, and my favorite design and build CO2 dragsters. My high school had a similar but more intense program, where my understanding of science and engineering grew deeper. Without the teachers’ passion to teach us about how we could apply the science we were learning in the classroom; many students including myself would not be STEM majors or professionals.

When I was a student Mary Ann valued my education as much as my previous two teachers valued their influence. She made sure I pursued my education, no matter how tough the classes became and proved to me that no one should ever stop their education due to financial reasons. Mary Ann provided us more scholarship opportunities than what we knew what to do with.  She never lost focus on me and spent the same energy to all of the students in our Tools For Success (TFS) program. She always had time to be our mentor and manage the role as leader for the program. I can guarantee that ANY TFS alumni will echo her ability as a leader and as a mentor. Her joyful and humble personality always attracted the students to the program and to become STEM majors.

Along with our top honors, two students and I were able to work in a fellowship with the department of commerce at NIST, but only due to Mary Ann’s diligent work ethics. I feel that it was important for her to see us go to the fellowship in Washington DC. Having an almost motherly sense she knew what was best for us. She knew how important and how impacting that experience was going to be for the three of us. She realized even before any of us had applied how on our resumes’, our college majors, our careers, and more importantly on other STEM students were going to be impacted by that opportunity. Thanks to Mary Ann she was able to expose us further than she already had with the TFS program. I can honestly and truthfully say that my achievements, my current studies, and my professional goals are a direct result of her impact in my life. After almost five years later and 1,600 miles between us we still maintain in contact, and like a good mentor she follows up with my engagement to engineering.