Alejandro Cerda has a full time job as an associate software engineer at Lockheed Martin— and he hasn’t even graduated from college yet.
He got the gig with hard work, determination— and help from MESA.
A San Francisco native, Cerda said he’s excited to start the next chapter of his life. He’ll begin the job when he graduates in May. The UC Santa Cruz computer science major is the first in his family to go to college. His parents both have only a grade school education and couldn’t have imagined their son would be where he is today.
“Their first real hope for me was when I graduated high school. Now I’ll be making twice as much as they make together, so they can see that my hard work has paid off,” he said.
Alejandro was first involved with MESA during its one-week bridge program held the summer before he started at Santa Cruz. The orientation for incoming engineering freshmen exposed them to campus life, courses and resources.
“I would have been lost without that program,” he said. “It also helped me make friends, close friends that made the transition easier.”
Cerda has been an intern at Lockheed Martin for the last three summers working for a satellite project in Sunnyvale. A few days after his internship ended last September he got an offer letter from the company. He said not having to job hunt during his last year was a huge relief.
Cerda has worked as a peer advisor in the Baskin School of Engineering advising office for the last three years as well. He also tutors lower level computer science courses at the MESA center, all while holding down a 3.54 grade point average.
For Cerda, MESA provides an array of resources he’s found helpful including professional development, academic support and tutoring. But he said the sense of community he feels while at the MESA center stands out.
“If I had a question about homework, I knew I could ask someone in the MESA room,” he said. “Knowing MESA is there to support me means a lot.”
Cerda hopes to earn a graduate degree and eventually move into a management role at Lockheed Martin. For now, he’s happy to be welcomed on as a full-time employee.
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