STEM CONNECT PROFILES

STEM CONNECT Scholar Michael Sanders

2020 UNL Scholars

#STEMCONNECT


Michael Bean

Hometown: Bellevue, NE
High school: Bellevue West
Major: Mathematics
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Michael Bean

What is your dream job in STEM? Statistician or data scientist.

What is one misconception about STEM that you want to break? I feel that STEM is sometimes seen as being rather rigid and noncreative, but it does have plenty of opportunities to do something unique. There are parts of STEM that are machine-like, but that doesn't mean it lacks creativity.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a STEM major? At least try it out. If you don't want to commit to a STEM major, why not start with a minor and if you like it pursue it further? If you chose not to, just make sure that you won't regret it later.

Madelynn Boam

Hometown: Rapid City, SD
High school: Stevens
Major: Computer science
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Madelynn Boam

What is your dream job in STEM? I want to be involved with the team at CERN or be involved in working with nuclear energy.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? I look up to my high school physics teacher, Dr. Smith. He is a motivating person, and I always enjoyed listening to his stories of building something amazing despite struggles from his past.

Have you been a part of any research in STEM? I'm researching into graphine. It's so amazing to get to be on the cutting edge of a field. Being able to learn from other students is amazing!

Philip Chohon

Hometown: Wahoo, NE
High school: Bishop Neumann
Major: Computer Engineering
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Philip Chohon

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? Space travel is the project in STEM that is the most fascinating.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? Elon Musk, because he is doing exciting things that impact humanity in amazing ways.

What excites you about STEM? STEM is on the edge of humanity's knowledge, and it is where new and interesting things are being discovered and created.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? Being part of a community who is interested in STEM and being able to connect with faculty members.

Eric Corrado

Hometown: Okinawa, Japan
High school: Kadena Air Force Base
Major: Computer science
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Eric Corrado

What is your dream job in STEM? Astronaut

What is one misconception about STEM that you want to break? That you have to be a straight-A student. It is possible to trip and fall and make mistakes, but it only ends when you give up. In STEM you can pick yourself back up and keep going on the path.

What is an invention or a discovery in STEM that you think is especially cool or important? The internet is one of the most important inventions that has ever occurred. With it, the human race has become more co-existent than ever before. Through this, collaboration can increase, which will lead to more inventions and better standards of living for everyone. The next step in human expansion is to become one cohesive group and work toward fixing the current problems for the next generation.

Ronit Gandhi

Hometown: Omaha, NE
High school: Millard West
Major: Mathematics and Biochemistry
Year: First-Year/Sophomore

Ronit Gandhi

What’s your dream job? A professor.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? A PCR project in Biochemistry.

How do you use STEM in your life? I volunteer in math and science fields.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? Dr. Rakesh Bhatia at UNMC, because he isn’t doing what he does for money or power.

What excites you about STEM? The possibilities and overlaps between fields.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? Building a community.

Santiago Giraldo

Hometown: Cambridge, NE
High school: Cambridge
Major: Computer science
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Santiago Giraldo

What’s your dream job in STEM? Work at Apple.

What inspired you to pursue STEM? My passion to help others with technology.

What is an invention or a discovery in STEM that you think is especially cool or important? Automation has been one of the most interesting inventions for me. From little things as your phone telling you what's on your calendar and weather for the day, all the way to self-driving cars./p>

Macy Howe

Hometown: Lincoln, NE
High school: North Star
Major: Mathematics
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Macy Howe

What inspired you to pursue STEM? I have always loved pondering about the world that surrounds us. Math and science offer great explanations and understanding to these incredible questions that I asked as a child. Because of this I always loved learning more and more in these fields and thought it was only fitting that I choose a field of study to match.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? My grandfather. He is the most hard working individual I know and always inspires me to take upon a challenge. Whether it was academics, sports or just life experiences he has always given me words of encouragement to go after exactly what I want and not let anything stop me from accomplishing me goals.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a STEM major? I would say to do outside research on careers in the field as well as classes you may have interest in taking. From my personal experience I was not exposed to many people in the STEM fields growing up and because of this I was very confused what a career in STEM would look like. Taking time to look at the job possibilities within the field helped me realize that this was something I wanted to go into.

Sorawish Kittikhankul

Hometown: Omaha, NE
High school: Millard South
Major: Software engineering
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

What inspired you to pursue STEM? STEM was just a natural choice for me. I've always been interested in how the world works and why things happen. This made me turn toward math and science and since I was good at it, I decided to keep going and went on to pursue software engineering in college.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? Not someone I know specifically but the YouTuber DaniDev (or Dani). He's a self-taught indie game developer, and I really admire the passion and perseverance he puts into developing a game by himself.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a STEM major? Prepare to spend more time on an assignment than you think you'll need.

Nicole Livingston

Hometown: Spokane Valley, WA
High school: Central Valley
Majors: Software engineering and mathematics
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

What inspired you to pursue STEM? I did a one day summer camp for coding, and I instantly fell in love. Also, my mom is an engineer, and I always liked the idea of being more like her.

What is one misconception about STEM that you want to break? That there is only one type of person who can succeed in STEM.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a STEM major? It is hard work and may seem challenging at first but once you figure out the problem it is so worth it.

Emmanuel Lopez Mateo

Hometown: Saline County, NE
High school: Crete
Major: Computer Science
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Emmanuel Lopez Mateo

What’s your dream job? A security analyst.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? A project that I liked was applying the skills that I had acquired in one semester to build the concept behind a banking system. No matter how simple it may look, now I know that through the years of study here, I'll be able to do more impressive things.

How do you use STEM in your life? STEM plays a part in every aspect of my life from being part of my major to buying a candy from a vending machine.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? I look up to all my professors and mentors because even though their role varies, they are trying to make a difference in this world.

What excites you about STEM? I have always wanted to pursue a career in STEM, because of people who are in this field that have allowed our society to operate in a more complex and efficient way from transportation to instantaneous exchange of information.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? I’m looking forward to a supportive and encouraging community.

Theresa Mai

Hometown: Lincoln, NE
High school: Pius X
Major: Computer science
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Theresa Mai

What’s your dream job in STEM? My dream job in STEM is to become a software developer because I enjoy creating new programs and brainstorming new ideas to fix them when needed.

What inspired you to pursue STEM? My love of math and working with technology inspired me to pursue a STEM major and career. I have always liked to use technology and was always good at math so I wanted to find a career that met those two criteria.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a STEM major? My piece of advice is "practice makes perfect" because you will never be good at math or coding unless you put in the effort.

Caleb Marcoux

Hometown: Roca, NE
High school: Homeschool
Major: Software Engineering
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Caleb Marcoux

What’s your dream job? Helping others with my skills. Currently, I would like to work at Don't Panic Labs.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? Open Source Software. It is awesome that we can contribute to software that everyone can use and learn from.

How do you use STEM in your life? Everywhere. I am always using new things I learn and new technology to improve my efficiency and daily life. For example, today I set up an ssh profile and shared keys so that I can easily connect to the CSCE server.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? Brady Garvin is our primary Software Engineering professor at UNL. He is incredibly passionate in his effort to help us understand the material, and always has a good way to answer questions. I believe people who take the time to care about other's knowledge and improve their lives, especially when they know so much, are worth looking up to.

What excites you about STEM? STEM is the future. I always dream up new ideas and concepts. STEM is making that future a reality.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? Community can help a person become more invested in their work. The peers and mentors that I have met are all amazing and passionate, and I believe they will provide a sense of belonging and momentum toward growth.

Arielle Monson

Hometown: Orion, IL
High school: Orion
Major: Computer science
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Arielle Monson

What’s your dream job in STEM? My dream job is to work for myself using both my computer science major and music technology minor. This would probably be some sort of music producing. While working toward that, however, I'd love to work for either Google or Apple.

What inspired you to pursue STEM? I was inspired to pursue STEM after joining my high school robotics team. I came in with no experience, but the team was very accepting of me, and I absolutely fell in love with programming.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a STEM major? Give yourself plenty of time to learn the concepts. Some things are going to take longer to catch on to than others and that is perfectly OK and normal. If you hit a rough spot in your assignments, ask for help. There truly are so many people who are more than happy to help you.

Alexander Muenster

Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD
High school: O'Gorman
Major: Mathematics and Physics
Year: First-Year/Freshman

Brandon Ramos

Hometown: Scottsbluff, NE
High school: Scottsbluff
Major: Computer engineering
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Brandon Ramos

What’s your dream job in STEM? I hope to work for Raytheon or Intel, working with high-end technology to push the limitations further than ever.

What is one misconception about STEM that you want to break? You have to be the smartest in your class. What I mean by this is that you do have to work hard in STEM but its not impossible. I treat college like a lifestyle and work hard to understand my material that was given to me in class. I feel like most people who drop out or switch to another major can succeed in STEM but need a mentor.

What inspired you to pursue STEM? My grandfather was in the engineering field and I quickly learned that I could make a difference in my community with my hard work and experience.

What is an invention or a discovery in STEM that you think is especially cool or important? I would have to say my No. 1 favorite invention in STEM is the transistor. I could go on talking about the history behind it and what advances we had to make just to get down to its size today. Researching them can lead me down a rabbit hole!

Lexus Root

Hometown: Lincoln, NE
High school: Lincoln High
Major: Mathematics and English
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Lexus Root

What’s your dream job? My dream job is probably working with queer theory, particularly at the intersections of theory with math pedagogy. There is a strong and active literature base surrounding critical interventions of queer theory in literacy development and self-narrative (e.g., S. Sandretto [2018], s.j. Miller [2015, 2016], S. Waite [2017]), and there is some work being done with numeracy development as well (e.g., S.M. Pennell [2019], K. Rands [2009, 2013, 2016], C. Dubbs [2016]), though much of the interventions with numeracy and queerness are at the elementary school or purely theoretical level, and most interventions in mathematics are solely at the cultural level without consideration for intersectionality (e.g., M.K.L Ferreira [2015], U. D'Ambrosio [2006]). I would like to link existing queer literacy and ethnographic numeracy research together, investigating ways to increase retention and integration of queer perspectives in math education.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? I enjoy the Directed Reading Program (this is the first year!). I am studying Algebraic Geometry with a graduate student whose area of research is in this topic, and I'm learning how to struggle productively through difficult ideas.

How do you use STEM in your life? In Nebraska, there is a large community of high school students who compete weekly at debate competitions. I frequently use STEM when I attend and judge these events, and in particular I use concepts from my math classes. When students make misleading inductive arguments, for example, I typically bring up the way that induction works properly -- the example of the sum of the first n odd numbers is one that sticks with many. But algebra, in general, is useful for these conversations, since many students are familiar with the results and not the proofs, and we can demonstrate strategies for proving things that are 'obvious'.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? I look up to Dr. Christine Kelley at UNL. She is enthusiastic about math, even in areas that she does not routinely use or do research in. She shows students how to struggle with math -- that it is messy, that results often are only achieved by trying out multiple dead-ends, that faltering can be a strategy. She is also involved with increasing enrollment and retention of undergraduate women in the math department, which is increasingly important and aligns with my own values about minoritized perspectives in STEM.

What excites you about STEM? I am excited about interdisciplinary work, and STEM is increasingly placing value on perspectives from the humanities. I am excited about a culture which values knowledge that is, sometimes, produced only for its own sake -- things do not have to have a larger purpose to be important or valuable, and many areas of STEM align with that idea. I am excited, in particular, about algebra, and the ability to create an internally consistent -- and quite full -- system of results with abstraction.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? I am looking forward to a feeling of belonging in STEM. The focus of STEM CONNECT on community and integration is something I also place a lot of value in.

Michael Sanders

Hometown: Omaha, NE
High school: Omaha Central
Major: Computer Science
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Michael Sanders

What’s your dream job? Being a professional athlete, or being a part of or making my own big tech company.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? I see cool inventions in the media all the time.

How do you use STEM in your life? In my opinion STEM is a mindset and a lifestyle. I believe that if you start thinking like a scientist an engineer or a mathematician that's half the work. Being a problem solver is the core of STEM and I've been one all my life.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? People like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Mark Cuban have had an influence on me.

What excites you about STEM? A lot of things excite me about STEM. Probably the main reason is the constant challenge. STEM is a field where things are constantly improving. I'm a person that when things get easy I tend to get lazy. It excites me that being in this field matches how I want to live my life, getting better everyday.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? Being able to have a support system in STEM that can allow me to make mistakes, grow, and learn so I can be the best me possible.

STEM mindset guides computer science major

Braeden Schmer

Hometown: Ogallala, NE
High school: Ogallala
Major: Mathematics
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Braeden Schmer

What’s your dream job in STEM? Video game developer.

What is one misconception about STEM that you want to break? STEM does not have one straight line solution to problems.

What is an invention or a discovery in STEM that you think is especially cool or important? I think one of the coolest inventions in STEM is the new robodog.

Spencer Schmidt

Hometown: Diller, NE
High school: Diller-Odell
Major: Mathematics and Geology
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Spencer Schmidt

What’s your dream job? A comedian.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? I think the GRACE project is really cool.

How do you use STEM in your life? I study it and explain how things work with that knowledge.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? Clair Cameron Patterson.

What excites you about STEM? Being really confused and then understanding an idea.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? I am excited to meet all sorts of new people who I would not have met otherwise. Also I want to know what the most advanced mathematics focuses on. I know what the classes I have taken deal with, but I have less understanding of what graduate students or professors are working with.

Abby Seibel

Hometown: Elkhorn, NE
High school: Elkhorn
Major: Computer Engineering
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Abby Seibel

What’s your dream job? To work in environmental technology specifically with water and energy. I think it would be really awesome to help build a system for water management that better accounts for the flow of water, and reduces the ways in which treatment facilities waste water. I would also possibly be interested in other ways to innovate new technology that saves water. If I cannot work in the water sector, I think Energy would be a very cool area to work in. People are really weary of environmental technology because they think of technology as a social tool, or a tool that creates pollution, and I want them to see there are many ways technology can be implemented with water and how environmental technology is a pathway to a better future.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? I am really interested in things that use tech for clean energy and water. There are a lot of really inventive ways people are trying to save energy in addition to the more common wind and hydroelectric power sources. For example, it is an idea to try and harness energy in cities from the friction of foot traffic, and although this is just a kind of extravagant idea, it is cool that people care so much.

How do you use STEM in your life? In a basic sense I use it daily in my major, but I am also using it in my free time. The best example is that this summer I am going to be doing a research project in Iceland that focuses on renewable energy and environmental technology. I will be doing an independent project that I decide on after learning the basics of resource economics and I am hoping to focus on something that ties computer science into environmentalism.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? Reshma Saujani - she is the woman who founded girls who code. Her movement is what started programs like the summer camp that taught me to code two years ago. Without her, tech would be even less accessible to women. In terms of people I have had as teachers, so far at UNL Kevin Gonzales and Chris Bourke have been the two professors who are really passionate about what they teach, and their passion makes learning so much fun. They relate what we are learning to the real world, and are so very helpful. Their passion makes me more excited about STEM and what I can do with it.

What excites you about STEM? I enjoy the fact that there are endless possibilities in the STEM world. Unlike other professions there is no strict domain as to what I get to do with my degree. I can make my own path, and if I don't like what I am doing, I have the resources to find a new project, or start a project of my own that is more impactful to me. I also really like the fact that STEM is focused on helping others. Overall, Engineering is here to help people live easier and more fulfilling lives.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? I think that this program will help me actualize my goals instead of having them be these big ideas I have that don't get put into action. I also think it will help me learn more. I am newer to the technology field and can sometimes feel a little behind or out of place because I haven't been coding for years. I think that STEM CONNECT will be a really good support system for me, and will help me explore STEM more boldly.

STEM scholar makes connections to environment

Alexandra Sierra-Mendoza

Hometown: Seward, NE
High school: Seward
Major: Computer science
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Alexandra Sierra-Mendoza

What inspired you to pursue STEM? My love for computers and technology gave me inspiration. How the world works and how technology has shaped our lives is something I find very interesting and that I wanted to pursue as a career.

How do you use STEM in your daily life? I think STEM is an essential part in everyone’s lives at this time and place. In the world we live in now, we mostly use technology. We have everything at the tip of our fingers. If STEM didn’t exist, a lot of what we have now wouldn’t exist.

What is an invention or a discovery in STEM that you think is especially cool or important? I think it’s pretty cool that all the STEM majors get to meet and have discussions. I get to meet people from other categories and majors. It’s the people who come from different backgrounds, that interest me. I like to meet other people apart from the Computer Science community, which I find to be pretty cool.

Sawyer Smith

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
High school: Discovery Canyon Campus
Major: Mathematics and Psychology
Semester Selected: Spring 2020

Sawyer Smith

What’s your dream job? A hotel manager.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? The development of technology used in the food service industry has always fascinated me. I worked as a waitress at a retirement home for almost 4 years, and we only upgraded from writing paper tickets to using a computer system to put in orders in my last year or so. It not only made our lives easier, but helped management to drastically cut down on time spent on problems relating to dining room/service statistics or logistics.

How do you use STEM in your life? I definitely look forward to delving more into the real-world application side of things (esp. with finance and computers), primarily because it has to do with what I want to do with my life.

What excites you about STEM? I find it so interesting how technology has become integrated into our daily lives. It's gone from being something exclusively used by the government/military, to something that most people (at least in the US) pretty much can't live without. We have so many tools available at our fingertips, it's impossible to try and guess at where we're going to take that next.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? I look forward to having an opportunity to learn about things that I otherwise maybe wouldn't, in my program of studies, or things that have applications outside of what I'm already studying. I think this program is a really cool way to connect lots of different types of people/ideas that all fall under a very general umbrella, but have different outlooks and different areas of focus under that umbrella.

Braeden Stuempler

Hometown: Rushville, NE
High school: Gordon Rushville High School
Semester Selected: Spring 2020 WNCC, transferred to UNL Fall 2020

Braeden Stuempler

What’s your dream job? Entrepreneur.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on or really admire in STEM? The monthly follow we have with the mentors from our respective schools.

Who is someone (teacher, mentor, role model) in STEM you look up to and why? I look up to my calculus professor, Dr. Scott Schaub, because of all the incredible sounding careers he has had.

What excites you about STEM? STEM excites me, because it will be giving me a chance to learn more about technology and certain sciences that are leading the world in innovation.

What are you looking forward to in the STEM CONNECT program? I am looking forward to the access to information and knowledge to obtain while in the STEM CONNECT program.

Hadley Susie

Hometown: Firth, NE
High school: Norris
Major: Software engineering
Semester Selected: Fall 2020

Hadley Susie

What’s your dream job in STEM? My dream job in STEM would be working at Spotify as a software engineer.

What is one misconception about STEM that you want to break? A main misconception about STEM that is important to break is the idea that you have to be amazing at the subjects already if you want to go into a STEM major. The point of going to college is to learn the material associated with that STEM major, so coming in with no previous experience is not a dealbreaker. For example, I came in with no prior experience to coding and was scared I would be so lost. In reality, they start from the basics and work the way up, so anyone can pursue a STEM major if they think they would enjoy it.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a STEM major? The main piece of advice I would offer is to give it a chance. It may seem difficult and overwhelming at first if you have no experience coming into it, but it is important to hold out long enough to really see what it can be like.