Meet The 2018 HACIA Scholarship Foundation Award Winners

The HACIA Scholarship & Education Foundation (HACIASEF) awarded up to $45,000 in scholarships to eight deserving students studying in the construction field. The scholarships were presented at HACIA’s 39th Annual Awards Banquet Held at the Chicago Hilton on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

The scholarships are made possible through ongoing individual, corporate and foundation donations. The 2018 Scholarships Recipients are:

Deisy Diaz Gonzalez

Growing up in Guanajuato, Mexico, Deisy Diaz Gonzalez was exposed to the immense need for resilient infrastructure. Her small town of La Laguna Large de Cortes lacked paved roads, a water treatment plant, hospital, etc. She had to walk with her family for five miles to a busy stop to go to a clinic and to pump water from a well every morning. At a young age, she knew how essential built infrastructures is to the quality of life of all people. She wanted to work in a field where she could help people directly in improving their quality of life and that’s where her passion for Civil Engineering flourished. Deisy desires to take on projects that strive to find solutions for key global environment issues and with Civil and Environmental Engineering, she is able to tackle these problems head on. Deisy also developed a passion for green infrastructure. Currently, she is participating in the EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge that works to foster a dialogue about responsible storm management. Her ultimate goal is to bring green infrastructure practices to low-income areas across the globe. One of her biggest dreams is to return to Mexico and help the community that raised her by providing low-cost solutions for storm water, wastewater and pollution problems.

Efrain Juarez

Efrain Juarez is a fourth year architecture school student at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Efrain wants to play a key role in today’s building process, which solidified his pursuance in architecture. Growing up in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago, his father made a living as a mechanic while his mother dedicated her time at home in securing his siblings education and well-being. Both of his parents emigrated from El Salvador during the 1980’s to flee from the civil unrest of the 80’s. From a young age, Efrain knew he wanted to be a part of the building process. He would help his father when it came to remodeling projects at home and he paid close attention to the improvements made to make sure he understood how to do it in the future.  His desire of architecture comes from his passion in problem solving. He admired how architects and designers use architecture to find solutions that addressed social issues like gentrification, public housing, environmental and sustainability. Efrain’s mission is to play a role and be able to design objects, spaces with people and the environment in mind.

Eric Sandoval

Eric Sandoval’s goal is to be the best engineer he can be and leave an impact on society by making it better for the next generation. Currently, Eric is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and is involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He is their Head Designer of their Roundtable Technical Committee, which exposes engineers to real-world problems and projects. Eric has worked on numerous projects that the committee takes on such as a transmission, CNC mill and quad copter. He also works with UIUC’s formula team, which exposes him to new and upcoming technology about components of cars. Eric believes personal development is not something that can just be accomplished, he says it’s a life-long process and it’s up to you to decide what you make of it yourself.

Jaremy Hernandez

Jaremy Hernandez knows there aren’t many women or Hispanics in the construction industry. Her mission is to change that statistic. Since she was a child, Jaremy would sketch buildings that people would deem weird, but to her it meant everything. It was her passion to create.  Finding the idea of construction fascinating, she realized how much of a difference she can make in the industry as a Hispanic woman. She is currently completing her studies at Bradley University with a major in Construction Management. With her mother’s disapproval of her career choice at first, she continued her studies not letting anyone push her away from her passion. Soon enough, Jaremy’s mother accepted her career choice and has been cheering her on – even making plans on how her future house will look like. Jaremy’s goal is to finish college, make her family and herself proud.

Stephany Ruiz-Gonzalez

When Stephany Ruiz-Gonzalez’s parents came to the United States, most of them began as entry-level construction workers in Chicago, IL. Stephany saw all of their hard work as they made sacrifices to be able to provide her with a home. Over the past 15 years, she learned the value of hard work through her family and how they developed their skills in construction projects, which she aspired to emulate.   While in high school, Stephany was one of eight student scholarship recipients of the Highland Ability Battery, an assessment designed to help young women gain insight on their natural strengths and provide a valuable career path guidance.  The scholarship required hours of interactive testing and as a result, it inclined her to work in the field of industrial design and engineering. As soon as she attended an engineering open house and heard how a professor described problem statements such as design experiments to lowering patient wait times in hospital, she knew Industrial Engineering was for her. Stephany applied what she learned and found small projects to optimize warehouse space or improve the system for truck maintenance at her family’s workplace. She hopes to strengthen her devotion to continue her education and remember why she began this journey, which is to continue the legacy her family started.

Mayra Arce

Mayra Arce is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering; The first in her family to attend college. She developed an interest in engineering inspired by her economics teacher William Connelly, whom encouraged the need for more females in the electrical engineering industry. With his encouragement and support, she choose the Electrical Engineering program. Mayra wanted to challenge the stereotype of women not pursuing technical fields for their careers. She also wants to set a good example for her younger sister and show her that education is the key that opens up all possibilities. As a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Mayra was able to give back to her community by tutoring students who just immigrated to the United States. She showed them that they can succeed in this world no matter where they come from. She hopes to pursue her dreams of tackling technically challenging problems to help society. 

Noe Hernandez

Noe Hernandez knew he wanted to be in the field of construction or engineering even before realizing what that career even was as a child. He later found his niche after talking about construction with his department advisor. A few days later he switch to study Construction Management with a minor in business. The idea of working with changing teams of different engineering disciplines pulled him even more into that field. Noe has interned for a variety of companies, including a glass subcontractor, a structural design firm, a Chicago General Contractor and a top General Contractor in the U.S. He is the first in his family to attend college. Noe has never given up on his dreams to pursue a higher education despite overcoming many obstacles.

Savannah Garcia

Looking into her future, Savannah Garcia hopes to own her own remodeling business and fulfill her mission of helping out the homeless community. Her goal is to create a program where she hires homeless people to work at her company and once the house is complete, they will have the opportunity to rent and then purchase the property.  Many have told her this is an illogical idea, however, she believes in her goal of combining her passion of construction with helping humanity. One of her biggest hardships in determining her career path was the fact that people don’t think women should be in construction since it’s a male-dominated career that requires heavy duty work, machinery and labor. Garcia wants to change the way people think of women in the construction industry and show that women can achieve anything.