Making a difference

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Inside Mines, Spring 2020 | 0 comments

For someone with strengths in math and science, applying to Mines was a no-brainer for Juno Padilla when deciding on his next step after graduating high school in 2016. But the journey to Mines wasn’t quite that simple for the mechanical engineer who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in May 2020. As the first person in his family to go to college, Padilla’s transition to college was daunting at times, but the scholarship support he received helped him find the confidence to work hard and live up to the high expectations that come with a Mines education. We met with Padilla to talk about how scholarships have been essential to his success and what his future holds. Here’s what we learned. Scholarships gave Padilla the confidence to succeed at Mines and inspired him to be a role model for others. Padilla was awarded scholarships from the Daniels Fund, Gates Millennium Scholars and Greenhouse Scholars programs, which fully funded his undergraduate education and allowed him to pursue a path he wasn’t sure was possible. “Scholarship support helps students who are, many times, behind the curve and have to catch up to some of their peers,” Padilla said. “A scholarship helps students regain that confidence and know somebody supports them, somebody is putting financial support in them. That means that they believe in them and reassures them that they are where they are meant to be.” Because of his experiences at Mines and the opportunities his scholarships afforded him, Padilla is encouraging others, including his family, to pursue higher education. “I truly believe that [scholarships] have not only just changed my life—they have changed the course of life for all my family members,” Padilla said. “I always harp on my little brother to apply to college. I’ve actually also encouraged my mom to start taking some college classes. She let me reach for my dream, so I tell her to go reach for hers.” Because of his opportunities at Mines, Padilla is ready to make a difference. Padilla’s mechanical engineering degree will provide him with many professional opportunities, but no matter what he ends up doing, he’s focused on making the world a better place, specifically in communities like the one he comes from. “I hope to lead a career of difference-making, of making sure people have the opportunity to reduce inequality all around,” he said. “I want to be known as somebody who leads with compassion and generosity and just cares for others.”