Class of 2009
Salvador Avila, Saddleback High School
Salvador graduated from Stanford University in 2013 with a BS in Civil Engineering. He currently works at Toll Brothers Inc. as an Assistant Manager.
"Thanks to the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies (AISS) I have learned more about the career I want to pursue in Bioengineering/Biotechnology/Genetic Engineering. Also, since the staff provided by AISS has a high degree in Biological sciences I am able to learn more about biology in depth. The staff has us write up scientific papers and create power point presentations that allow us to get familiar with the writing styles of scientists. Also, the creation of these works helps us to become better consumers of scientific knowledge. AISS has a staff member who is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz; this professor allows us to use the resources at her disposal and let us perform experiments with university-level equipment. AISS has provided an enormous number of doors that are now more open to me than in the past."
Nancy Agapito, Santa Ana High School
"From the experiences that I have gone through with AISS, I have gained more knowledge on science related topics. The program has helped me discover new aspects of the various types of science careers and I have enjoyed it all. Through AISS, I managed to learn about careers related to science such as Ophthalmology and Forensic Ballistics. These pathways both required science courses as well as mathematics. Also working with Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, has opened my mind to the study of marine biology. It has been a great experience spending time at the beach studying the different marine organisms that live on rocky areas. Keeping data of the presence of these organisms for different days and different tide levels all has helped improved my probability and statistics skills. The process has also helped my Microsoft Office Excel skills. AISS has given me the opportunity to be ahead of other students by teaching me how to do research and write scientific reports based on that research. It was hard work, but I know this would work as a future reference for a college scientific report. Science is all about discovering, inventing, and creating beneficial devices for society."
Jocelyn Antonio, Segerstrom High School
Jocelyn graduated from Duke University in 2013 with a degree in Evolutionary Anthropology. After graduation, she worked at THINK Together and then conducted bilingual research for Duke. She is currently at research technician at the University of North Carolina and is considering to attend medicial school.
Jesus Bajaras, Century High School
"Throughout the time I have spent in the AISS program, I have achieved new knowledge and understandings of what it takes in order to be successful in the “real world”. AISS has become a critical part in my life and has changed how I view science and mathematics. By interacting with people from various professional fields of study, I have become aware of how much work needs to be put in into any dream or goal. As depicted by the architect Brian Dawson, the obstacles that one needs to overcome in order to achieve ones ambitions of success can be very overwhelming; however, the key to success is persistence and dedication. Before the program I was just a student that got good grades and had a career set in mind. However, I did not know how to put my goals into action. Now through the new knowledge I have gained through the program, I am now more aware of what I need to do and go through to make my visions of a successful future possible. Working with Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz from the University of California, Irvine, I have gained a new sense of college life and the work that will be expected from me. I am proud to call myself an AISS scholar and I am thankful for the opportunity to interact with such great mentors and peers."
Maria Chavez, Century High School
"As a result of the experiences and knowledge I have gained from the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies, I now understand how an advanced education in the sciences and mathematics is a powerful tool in the professional world. Since the beginning of AISS, I was able to learn from various individuals about different parts of the science field. As part of the trips to Crystal Cove Beach, I was involved in taking statistical data regarding different animals found in tidal pools. As part of this activity, I learned about marine biology and statistical analysis. With the help of Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz, Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine, I was able to perform lab experiments at the university campus which consisted of dissecting planaria and observing their growth. In addition to having the experience of performing lab experiments, the class was able to visit industrial sites and have guest speakers of various professional fields come to educate us on the process of becoming the professionals they are now. Through meeting doctors, engineers, and architects such as Brian Dawson and Kevin Davidson, I have grasped the idea that in everyone’s path towards a goal there lies certain obstacles and that only those who never give up will be able to reach their goals successfully."
Estephanie Cervantes, Valley High School
Estephanie graduated from Smith College in UCLA with a degree in Government, Environmental Science , and Policy. She is currently working at AFLAC and the Santa Ana Unified School District.
"As part of the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies I have been able to do many things that I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to accomplish. For example, with the program I learned how to do research in order to write a scientific paper, and the proper way to make a scientific power point presentation. In this program, I was able to learn about marine biology and biology labs with Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Meliz, Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine; in no other program could I have ever imagined the opportunity to do this college-level scientific research at my age. I get to talk to interesting people every day about their achievements in different areas of science and in life. I love being part of this program because I have learned so much about different areas in science that I can pursue as a career."
Sindy De La Cruz, Century High School
Sindy graduated from UCLA in 2013 with a major in Economics. She currently works at Media Society as a Marketing & Data Analyst.
"Being an AISS scholar has opened many opportunities and resources previously inaccessible to me. I providentially gained knowledge on subjects that were closest related to my interest. The interaction with business and community leaders, like Brian Dawson, principal of the Irwin Pancake Dawson Residential Architects, reinforced my desire to pursue a career in architecture and business administration. His presence aided me in identifying the benefits and detriments of the architectural field and has additionally motivated me into searching more into the architectural field. His visit has aided and fortified my college search. His personal success has inspired me into pursuing business administration and becoming the principal of my own business. Additional interactions with business and community leaders assisted me in distinguishing among fields that would not suit my interests and needs, such as strictly science affiliated fields. I feel very fortunate and thankful to have been chosen to participate in such a program."
Maria Gonzalez, Santa Ana High School
"The Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies has offered me the opportunity to discover the vast careers that are available with a math or science degree. AISS has helped me to decide to be a math major and to continue my education until I receive a PhD. Visiting Medtronic, Southern California Edison, and meeting many professionals like Doctor Deborah Mauzy-Melitz from the University of California Irvine have helped me in my decision. Within the program, I have also worked on college research projects that involve finding ways to help improve my community. The first one was how the lungs of construction workers are affected by the air particles they breathe. The second one is how the families of farm workers are exposed to pesticides and who they affect the future of America and how we can stop this exposition. AISS has also taught me that in order to make a difference in my community I should attend a four years university that will give me a good education. It has also taught me that a student like me, AB 540, should attend a private university that will contribute to pay for my education. Through the program I have been able to learn about universities that offer a lot of financial aid and good education."
Jesus Horta, Santa Ana High School
Jesus graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a degree in Biochemical Engineering (Global). He is currently continuing his education in San Diego.
"Participating in the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies (AISS) has been one of the best choices I have made in my entire high school experience. Through AISS I was able to explore the types of science and math related fields available by having the opportunity to ask professionals about their jobs. Before I joined AISS I did not have a certain idea of what I was going to major in college. I knew I was interested in becoming an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer but I wanted to learn more about each. Thankfully, AISS took it one step further and not only went into detail about each of these fields but also brought in speakers who were able to answer any questions. I was able to not only eliminate Criminal Justice from my possible major search but I also narrowed my search to between Biomedical Engineering and Biomolecular Engineering."
Elvia Ibarra, Saddleback High School
Elvia graduated from UCLA in 2013 with a degree in Psychology. She later earned her teaching creditentials in 2014. Currently, she teaches at EBC Academy.
"The Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies has broadened my knowledge of the science field. AISS has offered me a variety of experiences that have illustrated applied science at an actual industry site. This program has exposed me to the experience of learning about specific sciences from professionals. The opportunities of learning are boundless because every week there is a new professional who speaks about their involvement in science. What is the use of learning something if you do not apply it? In AISS I have learned how much science is applied in everyday life. AISS also pushed me to become a better student and person. It exposed me to think “outside the box” and outside of my comfort zone. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of something as wonderful as this program.
Melissa Martinez, Saddleback High School
Melissa graduated from UCI with a major in Career Tech. She currently works at Segerstrom High School.
"Throughout these past two years I have learned and gained many things with the help and support of the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies (AISS). My eyes have been opened to the different types of careers within the science field. I have learned that science is always used in the everyday routines of people’s lives. An example of this is when we went to the Santa Ana Police Department and learned how crimes are solved with the help of science. Not only have I learned more about the importance of science in everyday life, but it has made me surer about the career path that I want to take in college. Being in the program has given me a broader idea of what I will encounter in the future in the medical field. It might not be the same but my experience working with Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz, Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine, throughout the summers gave me an idea of the type of work I can look forward to in college. Having to write up science research projects has also showed me the higher level of work expected in college. Writing those research papers has given me an advantage over other students because I have been taught how to write a college-level paper. I know that with this practice I will be able to produce better science papers that can one day might even be published. AISS has taught me many things that will help me succeed in the future.
Jorge Morales, Santa Ana High School
"AISS gave me a wonderful experience in which I learned more about the field of chemistry. This is important to me because I am passionate about chemistry. When AISS took the class to San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, it opened up a window of possibilities as far as how far a degree in chemistry can take me. I gained information on what is generally done at a power station as a result of the trip. It was an amazing experience to see how much energy can be produced from uranium rods and pellets that make the nuclear process possible. Another unforgettable experience I have gained as a part of AISS is being able to study the Axolotl at the University of California, Irvine with Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz . A salamander type animal that can regenerate itself, the Axolotl’s body is mostly composed of stem cells, and is being used in stem cell research. The information that we acquired from the data gather from the Axolotl was impressive, knowing that in a matter of weeks they can regenerate an arm. AISS gave me experiences that I would have never been able to receive at the high school level."
Cecilia Ochoa, Santa Ana High School
"It has truly been a great pleasure to be able to be a part of a program such as the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies. Through the course of these two years, I have been able to meet a variety of people who have become inspirations to me because they have been able to reach their goals through hard work and determination. One such person is Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz, Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine. Everyday spent at the Delhi Community Center is unique and always enjoyable because not only am I able to improve my speaking and research skills but I am also able to learn about an assortment of pathways in the scientific field. Being able to hear from our speakers about their careers allowed me to narrow down the list of science careers that lay before me. I was able to discover which careers are of particular interest to me. I was able to learn more about the different careers in medicine, something that has always been of special interest to me. Before participating in this program, I was not aware that there were so many pathways that could be taken in the medical field; however, as the program progressed, I was able to learn about specific medical careers, such as a cosmetic surgeon, a nurse practitioner, and an ophthalmologist. AISS has helped shaped my future.
Lisbeth Pedroza, Valley High School
Lisbeth graduated from Allegheny College in 2013 with a major in Fine and Studio Arts. Since then, she has been working at THINK Together.
"The Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies opened my eyes to the various different types of careers that are available in science. I was introduced to a lot of professionals who shared their experience about their different career paths. They helped me realize that there are many options to choose from within one type of field. For example, I learned that there are different types of engineering such as mechanical, medical, biological and civic engineering. I also got the chance to learn more about careers in medicine. I had the opportunity to hear from a cosmetic surgeon, pharmacist, audiologist, ophthalmologist, and a nurse practitioner. The program also taught me how to think more like a scientist. I was introduced to scientific journals, and was required to write a scientific paper using the scientific format. I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz, Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine, who had us conduct experiments and taught us about planeria, and souvenir species that inhabit tide pools. AISS also provided me with the opportunity to visit places such as Medtronic, where I witnessed how pig heart valves are transformed to work for a human heart. I also got a tour of the Santa Ana CSI Lab, and learned how science is used to solve crimes and catch criminals. I was glad I got the privilege of being part of such a wonderful program, without it I would have never learned so much about the opportunities that science provides, or gotten the courage to raise my academic expectations."
Kelvin Perdomo, Segerstrom High School
"Kelvin graduated from UC Irvine majoring in Computer Engineering in 2013. He currently works at iBank First Bank.
"In my experience as an AISS (Achievement Institution of Scientific Studies) scholar I have obtained a vast amount of valuable information in regards to science. The professions and careers that are available were not known to me until guest speakers came to speak to us. When Engineers explained the process of how to pursue this career, I felt like I was getting an advantage over other students. Scientific research papers are done in college but in this program I was taught how to it from two people, Edgar Sanchez and Ricardo Lopez, who have had success in there Master’s programs. The rigor and style of the paper was a good challenge that has better prepared me for college. The impact that this program has made in my life is going to last forever because of my interested in science."
Karla Perez, Century High School
Karla went to Santa Ana College where she earned 3 AA degrees. She then graduated from CSU Long Beach in 2015, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently as teacher at AISS.
"The Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies has helped me tremendously in discovering the different fields of science. I have gained knowledge on fields such as marine biology, molecular biology, DNA extraction, engineering, psychology, environmental studies, and chemistry. Furthermore, I broadened my knowledge of scientific fields through speakers of different professions. I have learned that science is a prestigious field that requires commitment and dedication; however, responsibilities and entertainment can lead to the difference between great and excellent work. Additionally, understanding the process of a well-written research project has become very valuable. In college, research reports are assigned whether for science or any other subject. Knowing the process of writing a good paper at an early stage serves as an advantage to improving my level of work. Not only does science require research, but the elaboration of ideas as well. Having to present my research project to my peers challenged me to become an effective and confident communicator. Overall, AISS has improved my understanding of science. I can visualize different problems through different inquiry and arrive at a successful solution."
Francisco Ramirez, Segerstrom High School
"The Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies has taught me a lot in the field of science. The general information on a variety of science related careers, from architecture to forensic sciences, has opened my eyes and mind to what is out there. In a memorable occasion, AISS welcomed Brian Dawson, an architect and principal at the American Institute of Architecture. Architect Dawson brought building plans with all the terminology and calculations needed for a successful building. Meeting Mr. Dawson meant so much to me because it was an inspiration for me to continue with my studies in hopes of one day reaching my dream of becoming an architect. AISS has been a life altering force in my life."
Jorge Rivera, Santa Ana High School
Jorge graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2013.
"Throughout my time as a part of the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies (AISS) I have learned that it takes a keen sense of direction to succeed. While in AISS I have met people that are lawyers, electrical engineers, architects, and other professionals. Having the chance to speak with them and ask them questions lead to my decision of double majoring in science and law. Being exposed to many professionals has helped me to see that there are many jobs available to me but not many that suited my interest. Speaking with an engineer from Boeing taught me that there are many innovative ways to use engineering skills and that the field is drastically growing. Through speaking with a lawyer I was able to learn that to become a judge you have to know high end people and be respected by your fellow attorneys, which helped me decide on a career. Throughout the process of writing science based research papers and listening to others explanations of their topics I was able to gain an insight into many diseases in world and problems that can very well reduce the life span of people dramatically. Being in AISS has given me a glimpse of what college life will be like and am very enthusiastic about getting the full experience."
Griselda Rosales, Century High School
"The Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies (AISS) has been a great experience. This summer we did research at the beach to see the number of species that were sea creatures living in watery and rocky areas. The experiment was to see if these populations decreased or increased throughout the change in tide. While getting our research done, we were also doing statistics, this way we would be able to understand why, how, and what we are doing with our data. This experience has helped me understand marine biology closer as well as introduced me to statistics. Furthermore, writing the scientific paper for the program has expanded my knowledge of doing research and analyzing peer reviewed journals. Writing this paper has challenged my writing and organization skills because to have a good paper it required a great deal of concentration and commitment."
Maritza Urquiza, Century High School
Maritza graduated from Standford University in 2013 with a degree in History. She current works for the State of California Finance Department.
"Participating in the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies has given me the opportunity to learn about the application of mathematics and science in the world of industry and in other professions. Speaking to professionals in the medicals fields such as a plastic surgeon, a nurse practitioner, an ophthalmologist, and an audiologist has shown me how science can be applied to directly helping people and society. Dr. Brian Kent, a plastic surgeon whose dedication and desire to help people has inspired me to consider a career in medicine. Speaking and listening to an ophthalmologist has also made me realize that ophthalmology is a rewarding and challenging career that I will consider in the future. Furthermore, I have learned how science and mathematics can also be applied to law, a career choice that I have always been interested in. Mr. Dawes, a patent attorney, explained how a degree in science can be used in dealing with the ownership and the uses of technology, science, and mathematics. AISS has also given me the opportunity to work with Dr. Deborah Mauzy-Melitz, a professor at the University of Irvine, on various projects involving regeneration, marine biology, fingerprinting, and DNA extraction. Working on these projects with Dr. Mauzy-Melitz has shown me how science is being applied in new research that could lead to breakthrough science discoveries. I am very thankful for the opportunities that AISS has given me in gaining new knowledge and understanding of applications of mathematics and science.