Engineering students get lessons in leadership

Five SF State engineering students spent two days in October learning valuable lessons about leadership designed to help them when they enter the job market.

The students were each selected to attend the 10th annual Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Student Leadership Conference, held Oct. 18 and 19 in San Diego. Approximately 200 students from 30 colleges and universities across California were invited to attend.

A photo of SF State students and MESA Engineering Program Director Nilgun Ozer with industry representatives at the MESA Student Leadership Conference in San Diego.

Five SF State students were invited to the MESA Student Leadership Conference in San Diego in October where they met with industry professionals. Back row, from left: senior Brett Hendrickson, sophomore Daniel Arroyo, senior Juan Larin, AMD Global University Relations Manager Marvin Lopez, PG&E Strategist for Diversity Talent Outreach Gia Ilole, and PG&E Workforce Development Senior Manager James Morante. Front row, from left: MESA Marketing and Resource Development Manager Mae Cendana Torlakson, senior Rosemarie Dehesa, SF State MESA Engineering Program Director Nilgun Ozer, and junior Lisa Fong.

At the conference, students participated in mock interviews, listened to guest speakers and connected with industry representatives, helping them to hone their leadership skills and prepare for jobs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

"At this conference, students improve their communication and leadership skills and their ability to network," said Nilgun Ozer, SF State's MESA Engineering Program (MEP) director who each year selects five to six students to attend the conference out of the more than 200 who are part of MEP. "In any task they might be given in their professional lives, they will be more successful as a result of what they learned."

SF State students who attended this year's MESA conference were:

  • Daniel Arroyo, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering
  • Rosemarie Dehesa, a senior majoring in computer engineering
  • Lisa Fong, a junior majoring in civil engineering
  • Brett Hendrickson, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering
  • Juan Larin, a senior majoring in electrical engineering

"What was most significant was the emphasis on networking and hard work," Larin said. "The conference taught me that in order to compete with the greatest, you have to carry yourself as one of these greats. You can't sell yourself short, you can't give in."

A highlight of the conference was the mock interviews conducted by industry professionals. Students were able to practice their communication skills and receive an evaluation of how they did.

"The whole conference helped me enhance my interviewing skills, my resume skills and just my thoughts about being a leader and how to excel in a company, how to get promoted to the top of a company," Dehesa said. "They pretty much help you with everything to prepare you for engineering in the real world, and give you helpful advice."

The California Utilities Diversity Council sponsored the event. SF State students were sponsored by PG&E. MESA promotes STEM success for more than 28,000 educationally disadvantaged secondary, community college and four-year colleges students in California through project-based learning, academic counseling and exposure to STEM careers.

To learn more about SF State's MESA Engineering Program, visit

-- Jonathan Morales