Jose Jesus FigueroaI believe in education as a means for improvement in life. Some of my family members and friends would answer that I have a stubborn attitude with regard to education since I have always had a strong desire for continuing learning and academic growth. I grew up within limited economic conditions in a family consisting of an illiterate single mother and three other brothers. Nonetheless, I continued attending school even when many of my peers in similar adverse economic and social conditions dropped out along the way; I made my best effort to graduate from high school and later succeeded in earning a bachelor's degree.

After finishing high school, I enrolled in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) majoring in physics and dreaming about becoming an astronaut but after a while, I realized that down here on earth we were also experiencing many challenging and complex problems so I reconsidered my dream. Ultimately I quit and went back to my town. After a couple of years working in different jobs and trades, I ended up enrolling in an undergraduate engineering program, but this time with the belief that I could satisfy both my scientific interests and also broaden my opportunities for better work and further education. As a testament to my stubbornness, let me add that I finished my undergraduate studies in five years (standard) while working in a full-time teaching position and raising two young children. Nowadays and currently working at Bucknell — this fall 2016 — I am starting a second master's degree.