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Julianna Alderete

625

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

Hello! My name is Julianna Alderete and I aspire to be a Software Engineer. As a woman in STEM, I have experienced firsthand how male-dominated the field is and I wish to change that. I hope to be able to advance my education and meet more women in STEM who I can work with to expand the role that women have in the field. I have worked at my high school to represent my Computer Science pathway to advocate for individuals to join, especially young girls figuring out their goals and aspirations. In the future, I dream to continue this path and guide more young women to the STEM field. On a lighter note, I absolutely love to read, crochet, spend time with my friends, family, and pets! You can usually find me at home, curled up with a book in my free time while listening to one of my favorite artists. I love to discuss books with others and find that it's one of the biggest connectors I have with other people.

Education

Cerritos High

High School
2020 - 2024

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Computer Science
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Computer Software

    • Dream career goals:

      To expand the role women have in the STEM field, particularly in computer science.

    • Associate

      Old Navy
      2023 – 2023

    Arts

    • Small Independent Crochet Business

      Design
      2020 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Surfrider Foundation — Club Member
      2020 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Cerritos High School — Mathematics Tutor
      2022 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      St. Peter Chanel Church — Volunteer
      2020 – 2022

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Entrepreneurship

    Rev. Ethel K. Grinkley Memorial Scholarship
    Around the corner of my house stands the little church I’ve been attending for the entirety of my life. The stained glass windows depicting the Stations of the Cross, the echoing of the choir, the creaky wooden pews: each piece of the church became a piece of me. Wanting to play a more active role in this part of my life, I joined my youth group. At fourteen, I was one of the youngest, surrounded by kids ranging in ages. There were large differences in maturity throughout the group, however we were all linked by our strong connection to God. From our weekly meetings to our retreats, each and every interaction I had with the individuals in that group helped shape me into the young adult I am today. However, one of the most impactful events we had was our food packing and distribution. Each Monday, myself and other volunteers would arrive at the church and assume our roles. From tortillas to canned fruit, there was a wide variety of foods and large quantities: communication and collaboration were essential in ensuring the packaging process was efficient. During my first experience as a volunteer, there were clear problems in the system already in place; volunteers had language barriers amongst themselves and the families in need, as some people spoke Spanish while others, English. In addition to this, some steps of packaging took more time than others. For example, the process of fitting in each can of fruits took more time than putting a pack of tortillas in the bag. As a result, there were frequent back-ups in the assembly line that led to confusion and wasted time. There were clear solutions, however everyone was too focused on following the system already set in place to change anything about it. This reminded me of seeing the different types of individuals and all of their situations, which were ignored by the majority of society who went on with their days without caring to change this. I wanted to do what I could to help make their lives even a little more manageable, and so I decided to speak to the organizer of the food packaging program and inform her of the issues I’d taken note of. She heard my thoughts and asked me to tell the others what changes needed to be made and to take control of stations if necessary. When we began, I did just this. Informing my fellow volunteers of the inefficiencies in our assembly process, I instructed individuals to swap places and move so that there were enough volunteers at each station to ensure a consistent flow to reduce back-ups. When confusions arose due to language barriers, I had bilingual individuals address the problems so we were able to continue packing fluidly. In record time, we had packed hundreds of meals for needy families. Just this experience at my local church showed me how one person can be the difference if they put their mind to it. When someone is unafraid to take the first step to change an inefficient system, great benefits can be gained. Though it may seem small, the acknowledgment of the inefficiencies of this system allowed for families who may not have had enough food for the week to get an extra meal or two, a luxury many of us do not have to think about on a daily basis. In my case, being a part of my church’s youth group allowed me to see firsthand how I can make a change in my community and, hopefully, the world.
    De Los Santos Family Scholarship
    1. From sobbing as my mother dragged me to kindergarten, to dreading group projects, my social ineptitude began quite young and only amplified with age. Always hovering on the outskirts of conversations and sitting alone amidst the noise of my peers, fear cost me both friends and experiences. Fear of judgment drove me to grapple with questions alone, rarely seeking help from my peers or teachers, resulting in gaps in my foundational understanding. I temporarily 'solved' this by simply memorizing procedural steps without in-depth comprehension. But test scores reflected my misconceptions and I continued to needlessly struggle. This cycle persisted until my fateful Creative Writing class. I learned that we were required to share every piece of writing and be critiqued by all of our peers. Immediately after discovering this, I attempted to transfer out of the class. It was my worst nightmare: sharing personal stories with strangers and being judged. After days of contemplation, I concluded that my weakness in communication was severely limiting my overall performance in school and my ability to build connections, and I needed to improve upon it. Though uneasy, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and fought my timidity, ultimately remaining in the class. Surprisingly, I found a deep love for creative writing and the helpful, kind suggestions my classmates offered during critique sessions. Above all, collaborating with peers enabled me to understand perspectives contrasting my own, diversifying my writing style and personal opinions. Eventually, I realized my classmates also struggled with their own insecurities. Thus, I began to regularly reach out to others, in and outside of class, when I struggled with concepts and expressed my personal opinions with confidence. Such changes awarded me with a deeper understanding in all of my classes and sincere connections with my classmates and teachers. Now, I understand how gratifying it is to share experiences with others. In the future, I hope to partake in a community that promotes such connections, allowing for a collaborative environment that fosters personal and academic growth for all, especially those afraid to take the first step. 2.Every Sunday morning while my friends slept in, I was kneeling in a pew praying for God to make His hour go faster. As Filipinos, it was natural for my parents to push my siblings and I into Catholicism from the day we were born. Between the prayers before each meal, weekly masses, and our nightly rosaries: my religion was carved into the crevices of my life. But I sadly came to resent God. The whispers of sin incessantly bit away at me, turning me away from Him and, in turn, away from my family. To my Filipino mother, God was valued above all, so my strained relationship with Him led to many arguments between the two of us. After being coerced by my mother, I volunteered at my church by aiding in our food program that helped the underprivileged families of our community. Complete strangers, united by their deep connection with God, treated each other as family. Seeing these people come together to help others struck me. Wanting to take part in such a community, I began to have a more active role in my relationship with God. I joined our youth group and began to volunteer to help and teach others about the love of God. With that, a void, one that I hadn’t realized existed within me, was filled. I realized how much I enjoy helping others and connecting with them over such a powerful force, and desire to help others feel the same love that I do as a Catholic.
    Rodney James Pimentel Memorial Scholarship
    Winner
    Five out of twenty-two. This was the ratio of my younger sister’s Introduction to Computer Science course in her freshman year of high school. Mine? Three of thirty-five. Not even ten percent. This disparity in gender led her to question her place in the STEM field and, in turn, her entire future: “Do I have a future in computer science?” It was a simple question, one that I, along with many others, had wondered as well as we advanced in our knowledge of the subject. Even at that moment, I still had moments of doubt on if the field was right for me. However, her reasoning for her hesitance? Because she was a girl. Because of something so simple as biology. As if being submerged in ice cold water, this was a wake up call to the effects of the obvious disproportionality between women and men in STEM, especially in computer science (CS). The fact that my sister was led to believe she did not have a role in computer science simply because of the demographic was inexcusable. My response to her question: “Why wouldn’t you?” Why wouldn’t she have a future in computer science? At such a foundational level, anyone had a chance in the field; regardless of gender. Telling her this, I also pushed her to give herself a chance. If she enjoyed the critical, technical thinking that came along with engineering functions and softwares, nobody should be able to discourage her from pursuing a greater understanding of these topics. Her dilemma prompted me to reflect on my own experience with the environment of my CS classes, one that was not particularly welcoming to females. It was not uncommon for girls, including myself and my sister, to struggle making friends and reaching out to others for help in CS classes. When group projects rolled around, the few girls in the class were often left alone and ignored by the majority and left to fend for themselves. Navigating through binary mazes and hundreds of lines of codes alone was disheartening. We felt as though we didn’t have a voice. However, this built a strong bond between the girls as we all could relate to each other. It was there I met one of my best friends, Elaine. As we progressed through our understanding of CS together, we found our voices within one another. Having a female companion changed my experience entirely with CS, and I hoped that everyone had an Elaine in their lives. In our senior year, Elaine and I were asked to be representatives for our school’s CS program and attended a trip to our middle school where we had the opportunity to talk to kids one-on-one about the pathway. Thinking back on all the times I’d felt that I had no one to turn to pushed me to use this opportunity to the fullest to be the mentor to these younger kids that I never had. Being able to advise these kids and answer their questions, ones that I too had once struggled with, was rewarding. Speaking one-on-one with the girls was especially motivating, as I informed them of my own experiences but how I’d gotten through it with my school’s female CS community. They reminded me of my younger sister with their doubts and hesitance on whether the field was right for them as girls, and like I told my sister, I told them: “Why wouldn’t it be?” The gender gap in CS is slowly decreasing, but women should band together to help expand our roles within the field. If more women join the field, it will show future (female) students that they should not be afraid of the male-dominated STEM field but rather that they should help to make a difference. Being able to meet such great women as well as guide future students is such a gratifying experience and I will continue to do this as I advance through the field. Hopefully the field will one day be a more diverse community where individuals can thrive alongside one another regardless of any characteristics, because: “Why shouldn’t it be?”