Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.
Cindy Rogel Bahena remembers when a professor asked if there were any students in class who knew about a medical service for people in lower socioeconomic circumstances.
“I was the only one in the room who raised my hand to talk about it,” says Rogel Bahena, who is graduating this May with a bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering. “After that day, I knew my life experience, knowledge and opinions brought different perspectives to engineering, and I needed to learn how to develop my knowledge to impact the technologies of tomorrow.”
Rogel Bahena also knew achieving that impact would require becoming not only a good engineer but a strong leader. The long list of endeavors she engaged in beyond her coursework attests to her commitment to the goal.
As a student in Arizona State University’s Barrett, the Honors College, she was also enrolled in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
She was a member of the ASU chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, or SHPE de ASU, serving terms as its president and vice president, and as outreach director for its junior chapters.
Rogel Bahena also participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, the Fulton Schools Engineering Projects in Community Service and the Fulton Ambassadors and won a Fulton Schools Outstanding Outreach Leader award. For her outreach leadership and community service, she also received the Fulton Schools Impact Award.
Among the most rewarding activities, she recalls hosting Noche de Ciencias (Science Night), which led to her participation in conducting 12 workshops for more than 200 young students from underrepresented communities and establishing five high school SHPE chapters through which students are encouraged to pursue higher education.
Along with her academic performance, these accomplishments were why she earned a Boeing Scholarship, the Quintero Family Scholarship, the Mak Pak Chiu & Mak Soo Lai Hing Memorial Scholarship, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Recipient, and a Barrett Scholarship and a Fulton Schools Outstanding Outreach Leader award.
Rogel Bahena gives credit for much of her success to several ASU teachers and staff members — especially Shahriar Anwar, director of the Materials Undergraduate Laboratory; Carrie Robinson, an executive director of student success; Jennifer Velez, an engineering student outreach and retention coordinator; Amy Trowbridge, a senior lecturer and director of the Grand Challenge Scholars Program; and Cynthia Romero, who manages a program for academically talented Arizona high school students from groups underrepresented in mathematics and science fields.
Rogel Bahena plans to pursue an engineering position in industry, but also has her sights set on returning to school to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in materials science and engineering.
She is looking forward to a career that will enable her “to change the world into a better place,” she says, and to be a role model for those who follow in her footsteps.
“I want to share my experience with the next generation, so that it inspires them to meet the challenges of finding engineering solutions.”
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