ISyE fourth-year Lucia Colina first came to the U.S. with the goal of going to college and earning an industrial engineering degree. When she began her college studies, she discovered the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), which serves to empower the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and impact the world through STEM. Colina joined SHPE, and upon transferring to Georgia Tech, found her place in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) and GT-SHPE. In the following interview, Colina shares her journey to Georgia Tech and SHPE and the impact GT-SHPE has had on her. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

What brought you to Georgia Tech and ISyE as a transfer student?

Since I was a child, I knew I wanted to study industrial engineering (IE). With hard work and my family's support, I came to the U.S. to obtain my college degree. I was able to start my degree journey at a great community college. When it was time to transfer to another school, I started searching for the top IE programs in the nation, which is how I found Georgia Tech. After searching for more information about the school and falling in love with the campus, I knew Georgia Tech was where I wanted to study to become that engineer I dreamed of being as a kid. 

Studying at Georgia Tech in the ISyE program has been challenging but incredible. I have grown and learned so much in my time here. However, what brought me to the Institute was the perseverance of becoming a professional industrial engineer who can make this world a better place. My parents are also an essential part of what brought me here. They have been my biggest support throughout this process.

Tell us about your involvement with the Georgia Tech chapter of Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers. 

I have been involved in SHPE since community college. The passion and love that the SHPE chapter members there had for the organization were so incredible that I felt connected right away. When I transferred to Georgia Tech, I wanted to continue my journey with GT-SHPE, and even though it took some time to adapt to a new school and city, I knew GT-SHPE was going to be that place where I could make a difference. So I decided to apply for the executive board as secretary. In this position, I am responsible for managing three different branches of our organization: academic and professional development; philanthropy; and our signature event, Taste of Latin America.

As a transfer student, coming to a new city was potentially challenging, but GT-SHPE allowed me to meet new people and obtain great professional opportunities. I have grown so much, both as a person and as a professional!  

What is something students outside GT-SHPE might not know about the organization?

We are an organization that looks to shape our members not only in becoming better professionals but better people as well. We have so many resources to help you succeed, such as professional workshops and boot camps, social events, Taste of Latin America, philanthropy events, scholarships, and so much more. This organization is not only for Hispanic students but for any student who is looking to make a positive impact in their community. Therefore, I invite any student to join GT-SHPE -- you will not regret it!

What are one or two of your favorite initiatives offered by GT-SHPE?

Two of my favorites initiatives offered by GT-SHPE are Kit Operations and Taste of Latin America (TLA). Kit Operations is a fairly new initiative that the philanthropy team at GT-SHPE is trying to support so it happens every year. The purpose of Kit Operations is to create hygiene kits for people experiencing homelessness  in Atlanta. This has been a tough year for many people, especially for this particular community.          

My other favorite initiative is Taste of Latin America. We show the larger Georgia Tech community what it means to be a Latino with cultural food, music, and a performance that everyone can enjoy. This year, the event had a different concept since we needed to make sure it followed safety protocols demanded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The TLA team has been exceptional, and I am proud and happy that even with all the challenges we faced during the planning process, we made this event possible.