Genesis Torres-Romero
Thanks to the scholarship, Genesis Torres-Romero is the first member of her family to attend college

After a tiring hunt for scholarship money resulted in no progress, Genesis Torres-Romero was just about to give up on her search. Then, her mother, BSCAI member Ana Torres, told her about the new Stephen H. Swigart Scholarship for Higher Education.

"I didn't have that much faith that I would receive a scholarship because I had already applied for several scholarships and never got anything," Torres-Romero says. "I thought, 'Why not apply!'"

This decision would change her life.

When Torres-Romero received the call confirming that she won the scholarship, she inevitably jumped up and down alongside her mother, who reinstated her confidence with seven words, "See! You are a very smart girl."

With the $3,000 scholarship, Torres-Romero relieved her parents of the financial stress of higher education and became the first member of her family to attend college.

"This was one of the biggest things that has ever happened to me — my parents never had the opportunity to make it to college," she says. "Going to college means that I have the opportunity to grow and follow my dreams, all while giving back to my parents for everything they have done."

Since then, Torres-Romero has begun her studies in general engineering at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). Her schedule keeps her busy with rigorous classes, such as calculus and physics — but so far, her favorite class is "Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering."

"I'm learning in-depth theories and how everything connects to the world," she says. "Getting to learn about circuits and currents is really exciting."

However, learning from women in the STEM field is what excites her the most about college.

"Seeing women in STEM around campus is what inspires me," Torres-Romero says. "I think to myself, 'That's going to be me in three years,' and I really can't wait for that."

Torres-Romero has always advocated for more women to join the STEM world, and she was shocked to see that she was one of two girls in a class of 75 students.

"I wasn't expecting the number to be so low," she says. "I knew in general that not many women were involved in STEM, but you'd think in 2019 the number would be higher."

After this academic year, Torres-Romero plans to transfer to George Mason University, where she will finish her studies in electrical engineering.

At George Mason University, she aspires to join the STEM club for Hispanic students so she can work with mentors to improve her professional skills.

"I hope to improve my communication, problem-solving skills and organization," she says. "I struggle with communication, but being in school clubs pushes me to be more comfortable."

After college, she dreams of working for Lockheed Martin, an aerospace company that works closely with NASA, and plans to pursue a master's degree in biomedical engineering, specializing in prosthetics.

"The way you can mix electrical and mechanical engineering into the human body fascinates me," she says.

Torres-Romero would like to thank Spartan Chemical for providing her the opportunity for higher education, and her parents for their continued support throughout her life.

"From elementary school to high school, my parents have always pushed me to have a bright future and to be on top of my game," she says. "College takes a lot of dedication, but if you really want to do something, go for it."