“I am a first-generation Mexican-American;” wrote Alvaro Sahagun to start the essay that won him the $1,000 Parrish Law Firm Academic Scholarship. “My parents immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. for a better lifestyle, but faced multiple economic hardships.”
Sacrificing close access with friends and family, the Sahagun family moved to the U.S. and struggled so that Alvaro, his brother, and his sister could pursue an education. As Alvaro continues his Ph.D. studies at the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it is obvious that their hard work has paid off.
Alvaro Sahagun’s Studies
Sahagun started his higher education journey at the University of Illinois at Chicago (U.I.C.), where he earned his degree in electrical engineering. At M.I.T., he has chosen to continue his path in this field.
“I am studying electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a focus on solid-state devices and nanotechnology,” he told representatives of the Parrish Law Firm.
What does the future hold for Alvaro Sahagun? Professionally, he plans to pursue one of two careers. He aims to become either “a process engineer in a semiconductor company or a research scientist for a national laboratory,” he said.
How Alvaro Sahagun Goes Above and Beyond
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the first-generation, Mexican-American-to-Ph.D. story is the height of Sahagun’s success. However, he is not one to be content with only his own success. Instead, his academic journey has been one peppered with instances of him giving back to the community that shaped him.
At U.I.C., Sahagun served as Outreach Co-Chairmen of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and was an active member of the UIC National Society of Black Engineers and UIC Honors College Ambassadors. He regularly volunteered as a mentor to Latinx students, helping them to consider a future career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Now at M.I.T., he continues this work. The one-time founder and leader of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science chapter at U.I.C., Sahagun has helped to start a new initiative.
“I am co-organizing the Career in Higher Education (CHE) Program,” he wrote, “which is a new pilot initiative among MIT staff and students that intends to provide academic help and mentorship to nearby BIPOC high school students seeking to pursue a career in STEM fields.”
Sahagun also serves with the volunteer science organization Científico Latino, which provides open-access resources and mentorship to undergraduates, grad students, and professionals. Regardless of where his career ends up taking him, we can be sure that Alvaro Sahagun will continue to work diligently to open up new opportunities for others.