Tufts University, BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering
Náni was the first in his family to go to college, so he understands why it's so difficult for first-generation students to make it through. As a freshman in college, he endowed a scholarship using his refund check to ensure that the students behind him had it a little bit easier than he did. He has given that scholarship to a graduating College AIM student for each of the past three years.
In college, Náni has completed extensive research on Engineering Education, studied abroad in France, worked as a STEM Ambassador with under-represented students in local high schools and served as president of a campus dance group.
After completing undergrad, Náni completed his Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering as well. Today, Náni works as a Technical Training Specialist for PTC, creating CAD content for and managing Onshape's Learning Center.
Náni also is a member of College AIM's Board of Directors, serving on the executive committee as Board Secretary.
Read Náni's college essay, which he wrote for his application to Tufts below:
As I made it through the endless security line and approached my terminal I was overwhelmed by a rush of emotions. Common airplane-related nightmares filled me with anxiety. On the plane I watched out the small window and remembered how the sky had always piqued my curiosity.As a young child, I would gaze up and watch miniscule planes leave trails of exhaust across the clear blue sky. I imagined that each was Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story,” flying from coast to coast on a life-saving mission. As I grew older I remained intrigued by traveling tens of thousands of feet above the ground, by tons of metal appearing suspended in the air, by velocities approaching the speed of sound. To me it was magical because before this trip, as an eighteen-year-old high school senior, I had never boarded a plane and ascended into the sky.
Finances were frequently tight in my house and luxuries such as air travel were always out of the picture. Throughout my childhood my mom worked as a housemaid and my dad worked in construction. My parents have sacrificed, working physically demanding jobs to give me the opportunity to become a first generation American and a first generation college student.
With inspiration from home to provide a better life for the next generation of my family, I’ve seen a blueprint for my education slowly unfold. My school has consistently been ranked as one of the lowest performing high schools in Georgia, but I’ve gained an appreciation for, and grasped, any opportunity because my parents had so few. In Mexico, they barely finished elementary school before needing to support each of their families.
Having moved to America without significant education, my father has needed me to serve as his personal and professional translator. Despite needing my support though, from a young age my father was the man who I wanted to become; I idolized him. He could fix anything; whether it was a car or machinery at his job he always found the solution to any problem. Over time, at his side, I’ve developed similar technical skills and a passion for engineering.
As I’ve matured though, I’ve come to realize that my father is not the person I saw when I was a child. Last summer, my father found that I had dyed my hair without his permission. He was immediately upset and began hurling homophobic slurs across the room. His outdated, hateful perspective equated dyed hair with being homosexual. He demanded to know if I was gay. I responded, “No, but what if I were?” He said that he would rather shoot himself than live with that “burden.” As has often been the case, he was judgmental when he should have been accepting. On that day I realized that he was not the man that I wanted to become.
From my father I have learned a passion for working with my hands, for creation and for problem solving. But from my community I have become a more socially conscious young man, one who wants to lead and set a moral standard for those behind me. My father no doubt has contributed to my development but I recognize his shortcomings. I understand the importance of balancing personal ambition with compassion for others.
Within my community, within my school and within my family, academic passion is rare. The drive to become an aerospace engineer, quite literally a “rocket scientist,” is unheard of at Towers. This is what I have to give. I can be both accomplished and compassionate. I can be the torchbearer. I can be the trail of exhaust in the sky, the “puff of smoke” in the distance that etches the trail to both achievement and acceptance for my younger relatives and kids in my community. I can be their Buzz Lightyear; I can allow them to dream without restriction.