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STEM Center Testimonials

Farhad GhadamliFarhad

I loved my days back at ARC MESA. The center had so much positivity and everyone was working towards new levels of success. I think it was partially fueled by leadership opportunities, scholarships, and best of all, Cups of Noodles!!

As a new Iranian-American, I now understand how effective the MESA program was for me, how welcoming it was and how it helped me quickly find my place in the United States. MESA was a great bridge program for me that motivated me; it gave me the drive to push the bar on my education during my community college years.

I transferred to UC Davis in 2013 to study mechanical engineering. I established a student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) at UC Davis during my first quarter and managed a string of activities which lead me to be named one of the "30 under 30 manufacturing leaders" by the SME national organization. In addition to running student organizations, my academic research focused on the sustainability of 3D printing technology. I graduated in spring of 2015 and started graduate school right away, because I wanted to explore more in the field of mechanical engineering and manufacturing. Now, I'm into my first year of studies with focus on mechanical design, manufacturing and product development. I'm currently working on two research projects, involving 3D printing and robotics.

I'm very glad that I was able to find MESA and I'm honored to be a graduate of our great ARC MESA center. I had so many good experiences and I'm grateful for the exceptional support that I received from Dr. Will and the coordinators (Matthew & Cirilo), and I hope that I can return this support to future ARC MESA members tenfold.


Parisa LotfiParisa

I can simply say that I experienced the best part of my college life at MESA. After my first year in the United States, I started taking classes at ARC. The first time I visited the MESA center, I was so shy and afraid to ask for help because I was not fluent in English and my math skills were not as high as other students. But soon it felt like home. As a first generation college student and new immigrant, MESA helped me adapt to the new culture, make life-long friends, and plan my future accordingly. Through MESA, I improved my public speaking, leadership skills, teamwork, and communication skills while attending several conferences, field trips, and joining on-campus clubs. I couldn't finish a single personal statement or scholarships or UC application without the help I received from Dr. Will and the coordinators. The meaningful conversations I had with Dr. Will always helped me stay strong and overcome hardships, recognize my passion, and follow my dreams.

In 2013, I transferred to UC Berkeley to pursue a Bachelor's in mechanical engineering. Right before I transferred, I received the Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship, which covered my entire tuition and living expenses until I graduated. After transferring, I spent the first summer interning for General Motors in MI. I also conducted academic research in the Experimental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in UC Berkeley for more than a year. In addition to advancing my engineering skills, I promoted STEM among high school students in Richmond and Oakland and became their engineering mentor. Additionally, I mentored several new transfer students in the engineering program at Berkeley to make the transition smoother for them.

I owe MESA a lot. I have to admit that my best mentors and friends up to this day are the ones I met at MESA. I never knew how much I'd miss my MESA family until after I transferred, but I'm thankful that I can continue to support them as much as they have supported me.

Nelya Lugovskaya

NelyaMESA was truly foundational to my academic success. I joined the MESA community my first quarter after graduating high school with a long-term goal in mind: to become a healthcare provider. As a first generation college student, I didn't have a clear understanding about what steps and skills would be required along the journey. MESA equipped me with knowledge, resources, and opportunities to develop vital social and leadership skills. I fell in love with the diversity that MESA had to offer. Each member had something unique to offer and something new to teach me. MESA was a nurturing environment consisting of mentors and passionate peers who soon became lifelong friends and an encouraging support system. I particularly enjoyed each end-of-the-year awards ceremony for transferring students. It was an opportunity to celebrate the success of each member and meet MESA members from other Los Rios campuses who may become your university peers.

MESA first introduced me to research opportunities for which I quickly discovered a passion. I worked at a cancer research lab before transferring to clinical research. During my time at UC Davis, I became a published author on atrial fibrillation studies and will be presenting at a national emergency medicine conference in May. In order to gain more exposure to healthcare, I shadowed in various specialties and became a medical assistant. Being a tutor and program assistant at MESA also gave me the confidence and social skills to teach the UC Davis undergraduate anatomy lab course. This fall, I will begin my first year at UC Davis School of Medicine. I hope to give back to underserved communities of Sacramento just like MESA invested so much in my personal development and success.

Pablo Garcia del RealPablo

Pablo joined ARC MESA in 2005 as a prospect major in geology. During his time at ARC, Pablo was able to complete the numerous academic requirements for the major, which included chemistry, physics and mathematics. MESA provided him with the institutional structure and personal support for enhancing his education through mentoring, teaching, and constructive feedback. The vast array of academic resources, outreach opportunities and intellectual vitality at MESA gave him an 'empowerment effect'--the tools and the mindset to thrive in the academic community. Two years later, in 2007, Pablo transferred to Stanford University to pursue the degree of geological and environmental sciences, which he completed in 2009. During his undergraduate years, he worked on earthquakes and faults in California, river sediment pollution in New York, and ultrahigh pressure metamorphism in China. These research experiences as an undergraduate inspired him to purse a doctoral degree at Stanford, where he has been studying geologic processes that serve as analogs to carbon dioxide mineral sequestration. His research incorporates thermodynamics, geochemistry, structural geology and regional tectonics--topics directly linked to his early years taking chemistry, physics and mathematics at ARC. Portions of his doctoral work have been featured in local and national news, and will be in print as a book chapter in 2016.

Pictured is Pablo exploring a decommissioned mine in California, where he has performed field-based research to understand the geologic expressions of chemical reactions between carbon dioxide and rocks.

QudsiaQudsia Wahab

After graduating high school, I decided to continue my education at American River College where I joined MESA. MESA helped me build confidence, stay successful academically, and develop a sense of professionalism via field trips, retreats, and leadership opportunities. I connected to a diverse group of people which improved my communication skills and made me appreciate different cultures. With the help of mentors and advisors at MESA, I received many scholarships which contributed towards my academic success. Before transferring, in the summer of 2012, I participated in research funded by NSF in the physics department at the University of California, Davis. The research project was in the experimental condensed matter lab led by a notable faculty member. I worked on an experimental model for avalanches in a granular system. In particular, I wrote software that selects the webcam images corresponding to the beginning and end of each avalanche without human intervention. The software enabled us to study large numbers of avalanches. My findings included increasing the maximum angles of stability of a pile of grains.

After completing my lower division courses at ARC, I transferred to University of California, Berkeley to obtain a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. At Berkeley, I participated in "The Steel Bridge Competition" which is an annual contest that challenges students to design and fabricate the most structurally efficient, economic, stiff, and light bridge. I was on the design team, and we competed against 48 universities at the National Competition earning first place overall for the second consecutive year. I was also involved with ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), SWE (Society of Women Engineers), WISE (Women in Structural Engineering), and SEAONC (Structural Engineers Association of Northern California) both as a student and as a professional. As a member of these organizations, I attended leadership conferences, served the public, and shared my knowledge and ideas with others in the profession. Currently, I serve as a mentor to high school and college students. I provide academic guidance, assist with college and scholarship applications, and help with testing preparations.

From January to August 2014, I interned at Hassett Engineering, a company that specializes in erection engineering and connection design of steel structures. Some of the major projects I worked on include The Wilshire Grand Tower in Los Angeles, CA and Las Vegas Arena in Las Vegas, NV. What I enjoyed the most from my work was developing cost effective solutions for our clients.

After obtaining my BS in Civil Engineering, I started working at Forell/Elsesser Engineers, an award-winning structural and earthquake engineering firm in San Francisco, CA. I worked on many projects including SFMTA Central Subway Chinatown Station and projects at Stanford University, UC Davis, UC Merced, SFSU, and Genentech among others. I enjoyed working at Forell/Elsesser Engineers because I was able to bring a fresh outlook on each structural challenge taking into account individual and unique project requirements, criteria, and budget limitations. Currently I am in a master's program in Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials at UC Berkeley. I intend to graduate in May of 2016 and continue my career as a structural engineer.

MohsenMohsen Forghany

ARC MESA is by far one of the most supportive programs and environments that I became a part of during my undergraduate career. As I glance back and reminisce on my days at American River College, I realize that MESA has become a part of my identity.

I graduated from high school in 2011 and within a few months began my undergraduate career at American River College. I was lucky enough to encounter some friends who introduced me to the MESA community and within a short period of time, I grew attached. The sense of family and support that I was greeted with everyday when I would walk in was amazing. There was always someone to answer academic questions as well as offer advice about school and life in general. During my time at MESA, I was given the opportunity to become a tutor and program assistant. These positions helped me improve my time management, interpersonal, and communication skills. Furthermore, as a member of the MESA family, I was able to attend a leadership conference in Santa Cruz during which I networked with many students who also were interested in pursuing higher education in the health fields.

In the fall of 2013, I transferred to UC Davis where I studied Biological Sciences and English. Within my first year, I joined the Global Medical Brigades and became a volunteer, monitor, and board member at Shifa Community Clinic, a student run health clinic that provides free health care to uninsured patients. As I found my passion in the field of dentistry, I began the creation of a free dental clinic in collaboration with Shifa Clinic. The aim of the clinic is to provide free dental care to the uninsured patients of the greater Sacramento area. I also dedicated much of my time to working at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center as a Member Services Attendant (MSA). Although I was a Biological Sciences major, I also performed research on the causes of highway accidents for the department of Aerospace Engineering.

Currently, I am in the process finishing up my coursework and preparing to transfer to UC San Francisco for dental school in the Fall. I am finishing work for the Shifa Community Dental Clinic. I also perform research in a lab studying cancer and associative drug treatments while continuing my work as an MSA at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center.

My experiences with the MESA program and the center at American River College really helped pave the road to where I am today and where I hope to be in the future. Through MESA, I began to develop a sense of humbleness, love for the community, and service to the underserved, principles I hope to bring to my work as a future dentist. The intellectual discussions with MESA director Dr. Will, meaningful interactions with fellow MESA family members, and the many other resources offered all influenced and guided me towards a life I always dreamed of.

Meelad AmouzgarMeelad

Making the decision to join MESA in 2012 was critical for my academic successes that followed because of the skills it taught me as well as the networking and educational opportunities it made available to me.

MESA is a diverse program that offers something for all STEM students. Whether you seek a supportive community, academic resources, professional development opportunities, or even a shared passion for science, MESA can deliver. Being immersed in positivity and support supplied by both students and staff, particularly Dr. Will, it didn't take long before MESA became my home away from home. The confidence, leadership, and teamwork skills that MESA inspired in me were central to my development into a better student, colleague, friend, and future doctor.

I transferred to UC Davis in Fall of 2014 as a University Honors Program scholar and with MESA proudly being the numb:er one accessory on my belt. With my MESA-enhanced resume in hand, I landed my first biological research position on the first day of classes to study metabolism in mitochondria. Soon after, I was inducted into several honor societies, presented my research at multiple conferences, and granted various fellowships, awards, and graduating citations that would recognize my commitment to research while also funding my senior research thesis. Without a doubt, my MESA experiences opened this opportunity for me and forged my path to a better future.

Though MESA has helped me reach many of my academic goals, the greatness of MESA and its leaders is that they also teach their members to promote diversity, community, integrity, and service. While continuing with conventional activities such as tutoring, shadowing, and clinical volunteering at UC Davis, I also worked with the UC Davis Student Health and Wellness Center to develop a campus-wide program that would improve student health. Being surrounded by MESA's supportive, welcoming, and resourceful atmosphere while in community college encouraged me to expand my experiences beyond the classroom setting and prepared me well to make the most of my time at UC Davis.

Now approaching the end of my undergraduate journey, I now fully realize and appreciate the benefits of my involvement with MESA and I am looking forward to new and exciting experiences. While at UC Davis, I discovered that my passion for medicine is complimented by my appreciation for research, and has thus led me to consider pursuing a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) to acquire an MD/PhD and become a physician-scientist. Upon graduation, I will be working at UC San Francisco as a postgraduate researcher to study cancer and inflammation within the vascular and lymphatic system. This opportunity would allow me to obtain a definitive understanding of the academic journey I would like to take in the near future. While deciding whether I wish to pursue medical school as an MD or as an MD/PhD candidate, I know that MESA's positive influence on both my scholastic and personal endeavors will continue for many years to come.

Manharjot SinghManhar

MESA has everything you need to enable your success.

I joined MESA in 2010, almost as soon as I started at ARC with my first Calculus class. It was where I went between my classes to work on my homework and meet with all of the other students taking the core STEM classes we needed to work through in order to transfer to the UC's of our choice. It was the place where I could accomplish all of my work and receive any and all of the help I could need: from extra hours with teachers and tutoring/tips from some of my brightest colleagues, to simply being a place I could print my work. Most importantly, MESA was a place for me to network and receive the general higher education navigation advice I could not receive otherwise as a first generation college student -- I made friends with all those special people a semester or two ahead of me on the path to transferring to some of the most prestigious universities in the country, and I obtained the invaluable personalized guidance and attention from the personalities that are Dr. Will and Matthew Register. Prior to transferring to UC Davis as a Nutritional Biology major, I was also fortunate enough to be able to contribute to -as well as further learn from- MESA, first as a tutor and then as a Program Assistant. MESA helped me foster not only the student skills I needed to succeed at UC Davis, but also the finer community and leadership qualities that are so important for us as we enter an ever more interdisciplinary world.

I am currently an M.D. candidate at St. George's University School of Medicine and have just completed my first term with scholarship. The support I received from the facilities at MESA have carried me to where I am and my friendships and networks from within the MESA family have persisted and have been a blessing I could not have otherwise obtained.