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Giving Flowers Columbia University’s Yelissa Lopez | Founder of Upcomers

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 2022

By: SemegaChange

Only in her third year studying engineering at the crown ivy Columbia University, Yelissa has already begun applying her skill sets and passion to start making change within her community.

As the Co-founder of Upcomers, a business that focuses on promoting black owned businesses while curating outfits and trends for college students. Yelissa is a Dominican-American from Bronx, New York, studying Applied Physics at Columbia University’s competitive Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

As we celebrate Yelissa this Hispanic Heritage Month it is significant to recognize that only 2% of Hispanic women are in the STEM workforce. Yelissa’s STEM journey has made it clear all her efforts are working to break the underrepresentation of Latina women in STEM. All of her experiences contribute to her STEM aspirations and goals.

As she aspires to land a career in Quantum Computing, Yelissa has participated in outstanding hands-on experiences very early-on in her educational journey, which led her to her aspirations.

First, let’s briefly touch on what quantum computing is, which is essentially an area of study that focuses on the development of computers and technologies surrounding the foundations and principles of quantum theory. What is quantum theory you may ask? Google it, we are here to talk about Yelissa!

Yelissa had worked alongside the Chief Engineer at CCNY as an assistant and acquired skills in machinery, solid works, laser cutter and more through training. She brought her skills as an assistant to the aerospace club at CCNY where she built model rockets and analyzed flight data.

Currently as a college student, she applies her skills at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE). Through working in this lab, she continues to acquire skills like MatLab programming, welding and building her skills in the other trainings.

One of the most remarkable ways Yelissa implements her skills both from her experiences and education is the launch of her own start-up where she has gained insight on how to present data effectively to customers and pivot based on customer feedback.

Not only does her start-up demand her to practice her analytical skills, it also impels her to improve her boss girl skills. As she is constantly interacting with Up-comers brand ambassadors, small business owners, and her co-founder. She was also recently accepted a position at IBM Quantum through the Qubit organization and worked on a project with IBM.

Evidently, as a Latina woman in a predominantly white institution, Yelissa has been in spaces where there aren’t people that look like her. Which can be hard at times for women of color throughout their educational journey as they might feel out of place or like they don’t belong. When we asked Yelissa how she manages in spaces like these, her response was remarkable:

“I started sitting at the front of the class… it can be overwhelming sitting around in a class that is literally full of white males”

She explains sitting at the front of the class makes it feel like she owns the class. It pushes her to raise her hand, ask questions and engage with the professor being at close proximity. She also adds what helped her keep pursuing such a field was that she did the work.

“I did not have the same opportunity or resources as my other counterparts, but I did above and beyond to be at the same level as those around me.”

Many of us can relate to Yelissa as women of color and could not agree more. One can say the extra drive to work twice as hard as our more privileged counterparts allows us to dream big and make changes in our own communities. Yelissa has dreams of opening her own company some day and aims for it to be predominantly people of color and help her community.

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