Yessica Jimenez perseveres to pursue dreams and earn scholarship

Posted: September 15, 2021

adapted from original article by Libby Culley, Department of Materials Science and Engineering 

Yessica Jimenez is not familiar with the confines of limitations. The materials science and engineering second-year student is the epitome of a trailblazer. She represents everyone who has a dream, makes a wish and devours opportunities. Her illustrious story is an ever-developing journey that continues to get better, bigger and more impressive.

Yessica Jimenez

When Jimenez arrived in the United States from Cali, Colombia, six years ago at age 23, she had a dream: to learn English, get an education and help her family. Her positive spirit and inquisitive mind are accompanied by the daily affirmations of perseverance.

“It has been a long journey that included cleaning dishes, selling ice cream, selling shoes, and more. I never give up," she said. "Every day I was thinking about reaching my goals, making my dream come true. I am the first person in my family to speak another language and pursue a degree in another country.”

Learning a new language and adapting to a new culture, Yessica decided to enroll at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, where she became the first woman to earn a degree in operation engineering in applied science. That, and working for three different companies in Colombia where she designed molds and managed projects as a quality engineer, led her to Ohio State to pursue an materials science and engineering degree.

 
 

Jimenez was recently named a scholarship recipient by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the nation’s leading Hispanic scholarship organization. She was familiar with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) from her days with the Hispanic Counsel at Cuyahoga Community College. One of her friends was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from HSF and encouraged Jimenez to apply.

“I knew that this scholarship could change lives, and I wanted to be one of them," she said.

She is grateful for the support of Associate Professor of Practice Elvin Beach, who provided a recommendation and continues to support her journey to become a materials science engineer.

Jimenez with Prof. Beach
Beach with Jimenez

HSF hosted a virtual ceremony in August to honor the scholarship recipients. The audience included Hispanics and Latinos from around the country, from all types of schools. Those who had been awarded in the past shared personal stories of inspiration and acknowledged the impact of the scholarship on their lives.

Jimenez embodies HSF's mission by empowering herself with opportunities. Now the Buckeye engineer stars in her own inspiring story that is constantly unfolding as her dreams become reality.

“What makes me proud the most about the fact that I am Colombian is how strong and resilient we can be. I want to change the history of my family. Being the first one is always the hardest job, but it is not impossible.”

And when it comes to the topic of diversity in STEM fields, Jimenez aspires to use her story as a platform to talk to Hispanic girls about the incredible opportunities in STEM and the need for more representation of diverse women in STEM careers.

Jimenez continues to use every opportunity to explore the broad concepts and applications of materials science and engineering while imagining its effect on the future.

“It is a privilege to understand the capacity, utility and potential transformational benefits of materials," she explained. "Aerospace, automobiles, medical, energy – all these amazing industries are waiting on innovations, and I want to be first in line to contribute on behalf of materials science and engineering. That is my dream!”

The future for Yessica Jimenez illuminates a bounty of career opportunities. “As a career, I plan to work for an automobile or aerospace company. Heavy industry is my passion – being in the machines, helping in the labs, working on new projects. I want to be able to do everything from designing the mold, to designing the part, to choosing the material, to innovating. I love being involved and having my voice be heard.”

Jimenez works at Nanotech West as a student research assistant. Her role is to verify that each of the lab stations has all the chemicals and implements necessary to run the experiment. The opportunity has also enabled her to be trained in photolithography, which is a process of taking photos of objects using a microscope. 

Jimenez's professional portfolio also is in alignment with her major. Since 2018, she has been a quality manager for Mantaline Corporation, which manufactures elastomer seals, tubing and molded parts for a variety of vehicle markets in northeast Ohio. 

She will graduate with her B.S. in materials science and engineering in spring 2023.