Gerisa T.

Socorro, NM

Challenges of Attending a Predominately White Male Institution

Attending New Mexico Tech has not been the most pleasant experience, because it is not at all what I thought college would be like for me. Tech is an engineering school and Tech’s demographic is predominately white males and only twenty-four percent of its undergraduate students are females. I never thought that I would struggle to speak my mind, but I am often the only woman in class, which makes voicing my opinion much harder then I would like to admit. Since it is an engineering school, my degree in Biomedical Sciences is frequently labeled as easy. I have had other students in different fields tell me that the study of medicine and biology is all theoretical, not real science, and that the field that I have chosen was a perfect fit for me because I am a woman. Tech also has a very competitive atmosphere that does not feel welcoming or friendly. I have heard my peers tell each other to drop out because they are not meant for a school like New Mexico Tech.

Every semester I am drained emotionally and mentally, and I often find myself wondering if I made the right choice being away from my family, surrounded by classmates who are quite insensitive to Latin women. I could leave, but if I leave they win. If I leave the racism and misogyny that is plaguing Tech wins. I owe it to all the women who came before me to stay and succeed in this misogynistic environment. I owe it to those women who will come after me, to pave a safer way.

Thankfully there is a small but strong community of women here who stand by each other.  I have had great professors who want everyone to succeed; my advisor is always available to talk to and actively finds me and asks how I am doing. I am currently working in a research Lab ran by a female professor who is extremely supportive to all her students and pushes the importance of mental health.  I have also met wonderful friends who are kind, opened-minded individuals.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to attend a college like Tech and to be able to make a difference in this campus. Given the option, I would choose to attend Tech a million times over. I might not like competition but I love a good challenge. My advice for other female minorities who are attending colleges like tech: Don’t back down from this challenge, it is well worth it and your presence is needed.