Shining Light on Hispanic Engineers

Columbia Engineering launches new scholarship to recognize Latino/a leaders  

 

Oct 15 2021 | Photo Credit: courtesy of SHPE and courtesy of Ana Rodriguez

As the nation celebrates the achievements and contributions of those of Latin American descent during Hispanic Heritage Month, Columbia Engineering has announced a new scholarship to recognize Latino/a leaders at Columbia.

The Alumbra Scholarship for Leadership in Engineering is made possible by the generosity of Ana Rodriguez BS’86 MS’88 and Marcos Rodriguez BS’83, and in partnership with the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University (LAACU), Columbia’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and Professor of English and Comparative Literature Frances Negron-Muntaner.

Named after the Spanish word for “to shine light,” the new scholarship supports students actively engaged in Columbia’s Latino/a community, whether they are advancing research innovation in the lab or boosting representation on campus and beyond.

“Light symbolizes so many positive things, from happiness to intellect,” said Yesenia Miranda ’07, who serves on the board of the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University (LAACU), and who was also part of the advisory group for the scholarship. “The study of light traverses all fields of engineering in some capacity.”

I am energized to see how our collective support can serve to demonstrate Columbia’s motto, In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen—in thy light shall we see light.

Ana Rodriguez
BS'86 MS’88

STEM professionals of Latin descent are one of the most underrepresented minority groups in engineering, holding 7% of STEM jobs despite being 18% of the population, according to SHPE. Through support initiatives like the Alumbra Scholarship and other programs, Columbia Engineering hopes to play a role in significantly increasing the number of students in STEM careers.

“Our Latino and Latina engineers have been invaluable contributors to Columbia Engineering ever since our earliest days,” said Interim Dean Shih-Fu Chang. “As opportunities in STEM continue to grow, we want to help more underrepresented students succeed at Columbia and reach leadership positions in their field.”

Siblings Ana and Marcos Rodriguez seeded the fund with $150,000 that was then matched with $100,000 from an anonymous donor. On Giving Day on October 20, donors may make gifts specifically for the Alumbra Scholarship Fund to increase opportunities for Latino/a students. It’s the second such scholarship directed toward underrepresented groups that Columbia Engineering has launched after seeing strong support for last year’s James L. Priest Scholarship in honor of the Engineering School’s first Black graduate. Said Rodriguez, "I am personally energized to see how our collective support can serve to demonstrate Columbia’s motto, In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen—in thy light shall we see light!"

Giving Day

Giving Day

All Giving Day gifts to the Alumbra Scholarship will be matched up to $250,000 to further amplify the impact of each gift.