Fullerton College alumni Luz Jimenez Vela returned to campus to share how her studies here in Fullerton led her to Switzerland working in the CERN laboratories. She appeared on Thursday as part of a series of speakers encouraging female students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics majors.
The attendees at the seminar ranged from interested students, faculty members, jr. high students, parents, and the college’s president.
“Take advantage of everything Fullerton College has to offer so that all of you can follow in Luz Jimenez’ steps and all of you can go to CERN,” said President Rajen Vurdien at the beginning of the seminar.
At FC, Jimenez was a member of STEM, a tennis player, and an honor society student. She encouraged people to look into opportunities that STEM offers.
At CERN, scientists from all over the world are working to study what constitutes matter, the fundamental particles of everything.
She worked at the collider’s Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator System, or ATLAS, which came from an undergraduate opportunity from Colombia University. Her specific job was finding suitable parameters that can help find a new boson, just like the Higgs boson.
The attendants also received a quick lesson in physics, from motion to the energy and speed that the collider’s she worked with use.
She confessed to having second guessed herself but applied for the intership nonetheless. Jimenez shared her excitement when she told her mom that she had been an eligible candidate and was more than likely going to intern at CERN.
She was born in Mexico City and moved three times around her native country alongside her single mother and brother before moving to the United States in 2000.
Her mother moved them here for better opportunity that she felt they would not get in Mexico said Jimenez.
“I was an AB540 student and I felt that economically I had struggles but my mom was putting a happy face on everything and I didn’t really know what was going on,” said Jimenez about her younger days.
Besides studying and working hard, she also had time to enjoy herself, even if a little. She visited Einstein’s house in Switzerland when he was developing the theory of relativity. She saw Lausanne, Switzerland the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee.
Hector Lopez, 22, a chemical engineering major commented on the imbalance of sexes in this specific field and encouraged female students to not be dissuaded by the male-to-female ratio in the sciences and mathematics because just like Jimenez, they can do it.
Jimenez said that in her experiences from CERN that the balance of sexes was actually a 50/50 and she was proud of it especially because they wanted to give everyone an equal opportunity and eventually expand to other countries.
Mareike Claassen, a FC professor and former instructor of Jimenez, said that in her classes the female students tend to do better than the males.
Regarding Jimenez as a student for her engineering class she said “[Luz] was always upbeat and really interested in learning the material not just getting an A.”
Claassen also talked about the imbalance in the ratio of women to men the STEM fields. and how to encourage more women to enter the field.
“Gender shouldn’t be a problem; I don’t see it even if it’s evident,” said Claassen.
Still she encouraged all women who have even a passing interests in the sciences to follow it. As with Jimenez, they have no idea where they may eventually end up.