Alexandra Manaves first became interested in engineering when one of her high school teachers suggested it as a career.
“I was always good at math and science and took two years of AP Physics in high school,” she said. “I was excited because engineering involves a lot of math and problem solving. Everyone in my family is in a medical field, so this was a different path.”
Because of the high cost of attending college, Manaves followed her older brother’s lead and applied to College of DuPage, where he had a positive experience and saved money. She was accepted into the Engineering Pathways program, which guarantees transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for qualified students.
“I didn’t want to leave home yet, but I didn’t want to admit it,” she said. “People my age don’t realize how expensive college can be, and coming to COD saved me so much money. The class sizes at COD are smaller and the professors are always around. The academic rigor is also there, and you have to work to keep up with it.”
Because of an assignment in her English 1102 class, Manaves secured a renewable $10,000 scholarship from Lockheed Martin. She signed up for the class at the last minute, as she initially had completed AP credit in high school. As a writing assignment, Associate Professor Bob Hazard asked his students to apply for COD Foundation scholarships, which includes writing an essay.
Manaves, a second-semester sophomore, was finishing her Associate in Engineering Science degree and knew she would no longer benefit from these scholarships. Instead, she researched extensively online and found the Lockheed Martin STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Scholarship, which was being offered for the first time to 200 students nationwide.
“I would love to work at Lockheed Martin someday, so I put a lot of work into my essay,” she said. “I wrote about career goals, being an officer in the Engineering and Technology club, and participating on the Robotics Team. I spent class time editing the essay and catching my mistakes. The assignment really taught me about how to write more formally for companies that many of us will encounter in our lifetimes.
“When I got the email late in the semester about receiving the scholarship, I had to really look at it to see if it was legitimate. I was shocked because I knew it was a big scholarship and I didn’t think I would get it.”
Manaves is using the scholarship as she pursues mechanical engineering at UIUC. Her goals include obtaining her professional engineering license and then starting her career before returning to school for a master’s degree.
She encourages anyone starting their college education to enroll at COD.
“I am so happy I came to COD and I’m so sad to leave it,” she said.