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Alumni Q & A

October 31, 2018 | Danielle McNamara

Charles Anderson has his hand raised any time there’s an opportunity to help MESA.

Anderson, the Principal Consultant and CEO of Anderson Pine Corporation, recently shed light on the road to entrepreneurship during a panel at MESA’s Student Leadership Conference in October. He also spent hours doing mock interview with students so they’d be better prepared for future internships and jobs. He’s a member of the MESA Alumni Committee and has a pretty impressive lineup of MESA involvement as a student. Here’s what Charles has to say about his MESA experience:

When and where were you in MESA? 

“I was in MESA at Verdese R. Carter Middle School in Oakland and Oakland Technical High School (I was vice president and president of MESA club) and I also attended UC Berkeley on weekends during that time. While an undergraduate at UCLA I was a project facilitator and tutor at University High School in LA.”

What was your favorite MESA moment?

“I remember I was building a balsawood bridge for several weeks and having it hold only 75 lbs – compared to the hundreds of pounds that others held. It was a good lesson in failure and to not give up. Those lessons helped me take the risk of starting my own business.”

Why you are a MESA alumni committee member?

“I believe that MESA is stronger with an engaged and supportive alumni. I have a moral responsibility to give back because of the impact MESA had on my life,”he said.

Take a lead from Charles. Get involved with MESA today!

Connecting Students, Industry to Launch STEM Careers

October 3, 2018 | Danielle McNamara

More than 200 diverse and driven undergrads descend on downtown Los Angeles in a step towards becoming the diverse leaders of tomorrow’s tech and engineering workforce.

MESA’s Student Leadership Conference brings together hand-picked engineering and computer science students with industry professionals to develop the next generation of STEM leaders.  Held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Oct. 5-6, this year’s conference theme is A Bounty of Homegrown Talent.  

Both students and companies benefit from the conference: students network and gain the soft skills needed to be well-rounded employees; companies gain access to talented, diverse candidates for internships and employment.

Companies recognize the importance of engaging with and supporting our students — so much so they fully fund the conference with donations.  These enlightened corporate partners understand these are not simply underserved and underrepresented students, they are an underutilized pool of talent that has been long overlooked.  Companies simply cannot afford to ignore this talent pool.

This year’s partners and sponsors include: Applied Materials, Cisco, Southern California Gas Company, San Diego Gas and Electric, Intuit, California Resources Corporation, PG&E and Edison International

Miriam Aguirre, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Skillz, a worldwide leader in mobile eSports, is the conference keynote speaker. 

Unlike job fairs or speaker-only conferences, MESA students get the unique opportunity to interact one-on-one and in small groups with company executives, engineers and recruiters. Many leave the conference with internship offers that lead to full time employment. Students participate in mock interviews, communications, team building, emotional intelligence and financial literacy workshops.

Never Settle: An Alumni Profile

September 12, 2018 | Danielle McNamara

“My parents came to America and decided to settle in San Jose California because a relative lived there. We shared a two bedroom apartment with my uncle and my father’s friend — there was about 7 people living there. My father was always working two jobs so I hardly got to see him.


“In my freshman year of high school my father passed away from alcoholism. It was a great tragedy when my father passed away and this broke our family apart. I remember going to the garage and punching my punching bad until my knuckles started bleeding. I couldn’t believe my father was gone. I felt alone, betrayed and broken. I became very selfish and was attracted to the gang life style. Instead of helping my mom and the rest of my family, I left them for this so called brother hood.”


Jeffrey was kicked out of school and entered the juvenile justice system before he realized he wanted more in life. He was able to graduate through a continuation school and started attending Cosumnes River College in Sacramento where he found MESA.


“MESA helped me get out of my comfort zone. I remember walking into (Cosumnes River College MESA director) Mr. Carney’s office asking him tips on how to dress up for a conference that I had the opportunity to attend. I was so nervous. I had never dressed up unless I had to go to court or church.


“MESA provided me with my own business cards and help me prepare my resume. Never in a million years did I think I would sit down with big name agencies and companies such as NASA, Raytheon, Caterpillar and even Google and talk about my future. I was nervous but I remember Mr. Carney telling me just be genuine and be yourself. In the end I grew as a person and my passion to pursue a higher education grew.”


Now Jeffrey is a third year aerospace engineering major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He wants to work on the structural design of spacecraft for a company like SpaceX or Raytheon. He said the MESA family helped him realize he can achieve his goals and gives the same advice to other students (including his younger brother who just completed middle school).


“Don’t give up. I know many of you have heard this over and over in your lifespan, but it’s true. Think about a moment when you were dedicated to something, but you had all these obstacles in the way.


“In my case, I was a full fledged gang member destined to spend the rest of my life behind bars or dead. However, even though everyone was against me, I pursued my dreams. I smiled at all the negativity I was facing and turned it around. I knew I could do more in life and all I had to do was not give up. Not only did I not give up, I made an impact. I left my community college with seven degrees, four scholarships, highest honors and acceptance to Cal Poly.


“Life is what you make it. Dream big and never settle for less.”

Stars Align for MESA Alum

August 9, 2018 | Danielle McNamara

Things keep looking up (way up) for MESA alumnus Victor Glover.

NASA announced this month Glover is one of the crew set to fly on SpaceX and Boeing spaceships. These will be the first major flights on commercial craft by NASA astronauts and the first time astronauts have traveled to space from American ground since the Space Shuttle program ended. 

This will be Victor’s spaceflight debut, but as a Navy commander, Naval aviator and test pilot he’s got almost 3,000 hours flying in more than 40 different aircraft, 400 carrier landings and 24 combat missions under his belt.

“Every moment in this experience is going to be the first so I’m really looking forward to it,” Victor said after the announcement. 

Crewed flight are scheduled to begin in 2019. Victor will be aboard the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft atop the Falcon 9 rocket headed to the International Space Station for a long-duration mission. 

Victor launched his career with MESA as a fifth grader when he competed in MESA Day contests. Applying the math and science concepts gave him early interest in being an engineer, but he gained even more as an engineering major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He would visit local middle schools to tutor MESA students in physics concepts through projects like mousetrap cars and egg drops. Helping students understand “Why do I need to learn this?” solidified his love for both math and giving back. 

He continues to be an inspiration to MESA students. He was named the 2016 MESA Distinguished Alum and addressed students about MESA’s impact and the need for diversity in STEM fields. 

“The New Face of STEM? That’s you guys — it’s all you. And from where I stand, you guys look great.”

We’re so proud Victor is part of the MESA family! We’ll stay posted on his cosmic course.