“If you have knowledge, share it with others. It doesn’t cost you anything to share it,” said Rosa Estrada. “Help others grow and succeed because they are the future.”
Estrada, a senior at San Francisco State University, is a Chicana Latina Foundation Scholarship recipient. Growing up in El Monte, a small city in Los Angeles County, Estrada knew college would always be in her future. After graduating from high school, she journeyed to San Francisco to pursue a degree focused in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
The SFPUC and its social impact partner, Water Resources Engineering, Inc. sponsored two Chicana Latina Foundation scholarships for Latina college students with residency in San Francisco. Estrada will receive a scholarship of $1,500 to apply to her college education.
“Coming to San Francisco helped shape me in ways I never would have imagined,” said Estrada. “I came to San Francisco on my own and quickly learned how to be more responsible and manage my finances, all while trying to do well in school. I also found my passion in pursuing a medical degree.”
Estrada’s a-ha moment came at a young age. She witnessed first-hand how children were falling victim to the violence around their community. Estrada said growing up with a supportive family and strong household gave her the courage and motivation to do well at school and be a positive influence to young people around her. Growing up with discrimination because of the color of her skin, Estrada wanted to help make other kids feel included despite wherever they came from. She said her experiences where she felt most discriminated became motivation for her to pursue her passion of becoming a pediatrician one day.
Estrada chose to major in biology with a concentration in physiology. She soon added a minor in chemistry. Her desire to focus her education in the sciences ignited at an early age. For Estrada, she knew how much effort was needed to succeed in college. Having a supportive family and community helped propel her to look for opportunities to also encourage others. Going back to El Monte during school breaks, Estrada shared she would mentor younger cousins and neighbors in her community and sharing about going to college and what she was studying.
“For me personally, I consider myself as an outlier rather than a statistic. In my community that is primarily Latinx, it is prevalent that students do not pursue a college education because of their surroundings and influence,” said Estrada. “If I can instill the importance of education in them, that alone is priceless. I have had a great experience in San Francisco and although this is my last semester, I am making every moment count.”
For those who are looking to pursue further education with a focus in STEAM, Estrada encourages them to help others along the way. A teacher at San Francisco State University encouraged Estrada to apply for the Chicana Latina Foundation Scholarship during finals week. In between studying and taking exams, Estrada made time to complete the application.
“My teacher looked out for me and shared her knowledge about this scholarship,” she said. “She taught me that if you have knowledge, share it and look out for others to help.”
Estrada currently spends time volunteering at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. She enjoys being in a hospital environment surrounded by medical practitioners looking to help their patients, especially pediatricians and younger patients.
“This volunteering experience allows me to see children who need help and meet those who are helping them. This will help me prepare for the good and bad, and allow me to see the beauty of recognizing that I would have the power to make change. Whether it is talking to children or helping them smile, I truly enjoy interacting with both doctors and patients,” she shared.
As she is nearing completion of her final semester at San Francisco State University, Estrada plans to return home to El Monte after finals. Between January and when San Francisco State University’s commencement ceremony takes place in June, Estrada plans to study for the MCAT and prepare to apply for medical school, all while looking for internships or volunteering opportunities.
Estrada shared that she believes everyone has the power to change their outcomes. “I looked for opportunities to overcome and improve. Nothing and no one can determine where you end up but yourself. For me, education was my gateway to move forward and get to where I wanted to go.”