Thirteen years ago, a nervous Andrea Delgado climbed into the Girls Inc. van after her first day of kindergarten. The young member quickly shook off her first-day jitters and came to consider Girls Inc. her second home.
Now a mature, self-confident version of that frightened kindergartner is starting her senior year at Carpinteria High School with the knowledge that, thanks to Girls Inc., she can achieve absolutely anything.
One of Delgado’s goals has already been checked off the list. Last year she competed against scores of high school students around the country to win a $15,000 Girls Inc. National Scholarship. Though she has yet to narrow down her top choices for college, she plans to study medicine and ultimately become a pediatrician.
“It’s made it more realistic for me to attend a four-year university,” she said in describing the impact of the scholarship.
The scholarship judges saw what Girls Inc. of Carpinteria staff see every day, that Delgado is successfully juggling rigorous academics and extracurricular activities while exemplifying the organization’s motto of strong, smart and bold. She was active in Girls Inc.’s theater and teen program and has volunteered to work with the younger members for the past several years.
Her involvement in Girls Inc.’s science program, she says, “made me realize that I didn’t have to conform to the typical female stereotype and that I could pursue a career in science.”
This spring, Delgado was selected as one of 80 incoming seniors to take part in the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) program at MIT in Boston. She was selected from a pool of 1,700 applicants.
“MITES was an amazing experience, unlike any other pre-college program out there,” Delgado said. “It isn’t just something to write on your college applications or resume. Once you get in, grades aren’t the most important thing; what is important is that you learn ‘how to learn’ and get to know everyone.”
MITES is a rigorous academic enrichment program for promising high school juniors interested in studying and exploring careers in science, engineering and entrepreneurship. During six weeks in the summer before their senior year, participants tackle advanced academic challenges, develop the skills necessary to achieve success in an increasingly globalized economy, and forge relationships with individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“The classes are designed so that it is imperative that you work in groups — if you don’t, the workload is simply too heavy and you will have a breakdown,” Delgado said. “Because I spent 15 hours a day for six weeks with the same people, I really got to know them, and they got to know me. After MITES, I have a new family of young people with a bright future that I can call at any moment for support.”
Executive Director Victoria Juarez said: “We hope that with Delgado as a role model, this year’s nervous kindergartners will realize that not only is Girls Inc. a warm and comfortable second home, but also an important launch pad for their dreams.”
— Victoria Juarez is executive director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria.