Circumstances Won't Define Carlos Rivas

STEM Endowment recipient Carlos Rivas was only eight years old when he set his sights on the stars and emphatically declared he was going to be an aerospace engineer. When he discovered his passion for education, he became unstoppable.

Carlos Rivas
Carlos Rivas, a graduate from Verbum Dei High School, was the 2017 recipient of the Dr. Wanda M. Austin STEM Scholarship.

Carlos Rivas of Verbum Dei High School brought his A-game to Aerospace, and we simply loved it! An enthusiastic candidate for the 2017 Dr. Wanda M. Austin STEM Endowment scholarship, this super scholar impressed us and won us over.

To be considered for the scholarship, Carlos and other bright high school contestants submitted an essay describing their interest in pursuing a STEM career, recommendation letters, academic transcripts, and a statement of financial need. After careful consideration of the submissions, Aerospace selected the top two candidates for a final interview with the selection committee.

This win for our future as a nation wouldn’t be complete without some history as to how Carlos got to where he is. At a field trip to the Air and Space exhibits at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, an eight-year-old Carlos set his sights on the stars and emphatically declared he was going to be an aerospace engineer. The rest, as they say, is history.

But living in a low-income, single-parent household in the community of Watts in Los Angeles is not easy. It didn’t matter, though. Carlos discovered his passion for education, and nothing was going to stop him from learning. Carlos continued to study hard — focusing on advanced math and science — and throughout middle and high school even worked on building rocket models. His unrelenting passion for engineering also led him to establish the Engineering Club at Verbum Dei High School, where he served as the club’s president.

Carlos now attends St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, pursuing his physics degree, which will launch him on a trajectory to becoming an aerospace engineer—with us, here at The Aerospace Corporation.

Learn More about Carlos Rivas and the STEM Endowment

The Aerospace STEM Endowment Fund

Aerospace established the Dr. Wanda M. Austin STEM Endowment Fund in 2015 to inspire and nurture the next generation of engineers and scientists who will shape and secure the future of our nation. The fund targets high school seniors from communities that are traditionally under-represented in the STEM fields. The fund offers scholarships, grants, and teacher education programs, and will expand its offerings as it grows.

Support the STEM Endowment

The Aerospace STEM Endowment was established to provide support and resources to disadvantaged students pursuing STEM education. The Endowment funds the annual Dr. Wanda M. Austin Scholarship as well as STEM-related events hosted by Aerospace.

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STEM Tour student marshmallow challenge