Maribel Solano Alcantara

Associate in Science

Maribel Solano Alcantara first began attending Yakima Valley College in the fall of 2018. Alcantara, who was born in Mexico, migrated to the United States when she was just 4 years old.

Raised by a single mom, Alcantara was encouraged to follow her passions and pushed to pursue opportunities and education. Like many first-generation college students, Alcantara found it difficult to navigate the college environment and system.

“Prior to attending Yakima Valley College I had only worked in cherry, pear, [and] apple orchards. As the first person in my family to attend college I found navigating the American college system has been a learning process,” stated Alcantara.

Though she originally planned to major in history, Solano missed the challenge and rigor of STEM courses and decided to switch her major to chemistry.

As a STEM major, Alcantara was able to make valuable connections through YVC’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program. MESA works to help improve retention in STEM fields, with an emphasis on traditionally underrepresented students, by supporting opportunities for academic enrichment and professional development.

In addition to her coursework, she was selected twice to participate in YVC undergraduate research projects. These projects are made possible by a science, technology, engineering and math grant through the U.S. Department of Education. YVC works in partnership with Heritage University to offer this opportunity to students. She also has been active in the STEM, MESA, Finish Strong, Women in STEM and Phi Theta Kappa student clubs.

“I was given the opportunity to experience a lab setting in classes and through undergraduate research projects. My two projects were in fields outside of chemistry, but I learned that I enjoy interdisciplinary work and was exposed to the research environment,” stated Alcantara.

She’s thankful for the opportunities provided through the STEM and MESA programs as well as the support received.

“By far the best part of getting through the program was the people I met. The incredible instructors who supported me and my amazing mentor Cristy Rasmussen,” stated Alcantara.

Alcantara graduates this June with her associate in science degree. She plans to transfer to a four-year university to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Ultimately, she aims to earn her PhD and is working towards developing a future in academia and research.

“Community is everything, I take pride in my own development because it is not just growth in myself but also in our peoples. I have enjoyed years of developing my art and voice as I now extend into the sciences. To be in a position of distinction and an example of the brilliance and power that we are capable of is more than I could have asked for. I aspire to continue serving my community through the best of my abilities,” she concluded.