Citlalli Gomez is a graduate of YES Prep North Central and a bioengineering major at Texas A&M. She is the president of The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the largest Hispanic organization on campus. I interviewed her about her position as a Hispanic leader on campus, her experience at YES Prep, and her goals for the future.
What is The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers?
We’re a professional engineering organization with about 250 members. Our vision is to lead and prepare students to become good engineers. Engineering companies sponsor us. We offer academic and professional development workshops and have a mentorship program. For the mentorship program, we have lower-level students paired with upper-level students. Senior-level students are paired with a professional mentor. We’re creating this pipeline of mentorship from high school until you graduate and become a professional. We also have a lot of social activities, so there’s a balance of fun and academic things. For example, we go bowling together. We are a tight-knit group. I consider them my family.
How did you get involved with The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers?
I joined my freshman year after my friends encouraged me. During the first meeting, they have gave out free tortas, pupusas, etc. It was a lot of Hispanic foods. I was far from home for the first time, and it was nice to find a family here. I participated a lot and volunteered that year.
How did you come to be in a leadership position?
My junior year, I was elected to be Director of External Affairs. I handled outreach and helping high school students. My senior year, I went away to an engineering internship for a year. Now this year, my fifth, I was elected as president by the organization.
What does it mean for you to be a leader of a Hispanic organization?
We have a lot of Hispanic students on campus, and I’m seeing how I can directly help my community. Many of our members are coming to college as first generation students like me. As president, I can make sure our members get the support they need and I can help them feel like they’re part of a family away from home.
How did YES Prep prepare you to be where you are now?
YES prepared me by teaching me how and where to find what you need. Here at the U, there are so many resources. It can be overwhelming. YES Prep also prepared me in my confidence. I’m a first generation student, but YES made sure I had the study habits I needed to succeed. Also, they offered a lot of summer opportunities. You might learn cooking for a week or you go for a month to a university to study something. I participated in [a summer opportunity] every summer from 7th-12th grade. Two of those summers, I was here at TAMU. That was something that helped convince me to come here and study engineering. It showed me that there was something beyond Houston.
What are your goals for your future?
I want to earn my licensing as a professional engineer and get a job as an environmental engineer. When I was interning, I was working as an environmental engineer and I got to see what it was like. I’m still thinking about grad school. No matter what, though, I want to continue to be involved [with The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers]. YES Prep taught me to be involved and give back. The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers is the reason I’m still in college. I want to continue to give back when I graduate– just like someone else did for me.