to inspire the next STEM generation
Major moves have been a part of life for Alberto Ruiz ’14. Born in Venezuela, he relocated with his parents to Florida, where he earned an associate’s degree in physics at Miami-Dade College. Then he came to California to attend Harvey Mudd College, where he became one of the few transfer students.
Ruiz said, “I think I was a good match for the school’s mission: a scientist concerned with the impact of his work on society.”
Ruiz did experience culture shock at first. He said, “I had always lived in a predominantly Latino community. The open-mindedness of the Harvey Mudd community allowed me to feel comfortable and overcome the culture shock I experienced.”
Ruiz has become a leader in the campus group Society of Professional Latinos in STEMS. He said, “Inspiring younger students to become interested in STEM education is important to me. I think I serve as an example of how being culturally Latino and a scientist are not mutually exclusive.”
He’s also taken advantage of opportunities to pursue research with faculty. As a member of a Lab for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics research team last summer, Ruiz analyzed fluorescence data from lava tubes in the Mojave Desert. That effort developed his interest in spectroscopy and inspired his senior thesis project: designing and constructing a Raman spectrometer.
The experience also supports his ultimate goal of becoming a professor. Ruiz said, “Education is a tool that allows you to achieve your own dreams while helping others achieve theirs.”