Lupe Segura immigrated to the U.S, when she was 13 years old. A lack of English skills quickly diminished her self-confidence and left her struggling in her classes at the low-performing schools she attended in Oakland.


And, as the daughter of a housewife and a construction worker, she had no footsteps to follow on a road to higher education.


Yet, 22 years later, Lupe holds three degrees and is a Genentech engineer who works to get pharmaceutical clinical trials completed and drugs manufactured.


“How did I get here? MESA. One hundred percent.”


Lupe joined MESA shortly after moving to Oakland. She attended MESA summer immersion sessions at UC Berkeley for three years and said she learned more during those workshops than in an entire semester in school.


“Those summers made all the difference in the world to me. MESA created the opportunity for me to experience STEM and help me believe that I could go to college,” she said.


Lupe went on to become a Gates Millennium Scholar, earning a full ride to Berkeley as an industrial engineering and operations research major. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Berkeley and began working as an engineer at UPS.


Looking back, though, Lupe said the lessons she learned in MESA affected her life goals and led to a career change.


“We learned through MESA about the inequity in education and access; that there is a problem and that we can be a part of the solution. Putting these social issues in perspective made me realize I had the chance to make a difference.”


That perspective led Lupe to an interest in biotechnology and a master’s degree in public health. She wanted to help bring life-changing medicine to those who need it.


For Lupe, working with clinical trials and drug development at Genentech is a way to enable others to live more fulfilling lives and completes the circle of empowerment she gained from MESA.


“MESA does amazing things. There’s no other way to say it.”