The current strength of San Diego’s economy can be traced back to the visionary leadership of San Diegans from years past.

Decades ago, business leaders and philanthropists, such as Samuel L. Blasker and the Fleet family, recognized the importance of investing in innovation to prepare for the future of San Diego.

And as a result, today, science and technology serve as the bedrock of our region’s business sector.

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The San Diego Foundation recognizes the importance of doubling down on these investments to strengthen and grow the region’s economy.

The San Diego Foundation Science & Technology Program, which is supported by the Blasker-Rose-Miah and Reuben H. Fleet Foundation Endowments, helps expand the pipeline of under-represented students pursuing STEM degrees and career pathways at local community colleges, universities, companies and organizations.

Over the coming months, we will share first-person stories of individuals who have been positively impacted by the Science & Technology Program to bring to light the many unique stories of our region’s future innovators and business leaders.

Gloria Diaz: A Life Changed

**Gloria attended the California State University, San Marcos STEM Summer Scholars Program, a grantee of The San Diego Foundation Science & Technology Program.

Before joining the STEM Summer Scholars Program, I wasn’t secure in my abilities to succeed academically or pursue a worthwhile career. I worked hard, but I couldn’t adequately apply myself to see satisfactory results. I lacked the ability to turn my motivation into actions that demonstrated my genuine passion for chemistry and drive to prosper.

But that all changed once I enrolled in the Cal State San Marcos STEM Summer Scholarship Program. The Program ignited my untapped potential and converted it into actions that sparked my best interest to continue progressing as a professional within my area of discipline. It allowed me the opportunity to rise above my insecurities and embrace my uniqueness as a Hispanic woman within the sciences. In addition, it ignited my interest for research and fostered my relationship with my mentor Dr. Robert Iafe.

Chemistry and Biochemistry awarded Gloria Diaz

At Cal State San Marcos, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry awarded Gloria Diaz (front, middle) the Outstanding Student Faculty Collaboration Award for my work with Dr. Robert Iafe.

Through our first exercise, which was a 5-minute chalk talk, I overcame my fear of public speaking. Over time, my self-esteem and networking skills matured and my introverted nature became a thing of the past. When going on tours of local companies, including Schimadzu and ThermoFisher, I felt confident conversing with the associates, which ultimately paid off when it came time for me to present at the National ACS Conference CSU Program for Education & Research.

The summer program allowed me to concentrate on my research and grow my confidence in a research setting. After the first few weeks, the pressures of high quality performance in lab no longer intimidated me. In fact, the mentorship strengthened my skills and guided me in structuring my career after college.

At the end of my time at Cal State San Marcos, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry awarded me the Outstanding Student Faculty Collaboration Award for my work with Dr. Iafe. Following my graduation, I interned at Zymo Research Corp, and after three months was promoted to Research Associate. Recently, I have been accepted in the MCORE Grad Program at the University of Michigan and am continuing to apply to Doctoral Programs at highly competitive schools.

Long Term Impact

The San Diego Foundation improves the region’s economy and changes lives by investing in San Diego’s youth. Help make a difference by joining your fellow philanthropists in donating to the Science & Technology Program today.

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