Serra Senior Alex Anaya spent seven weeks of his summer learning computer programming and materials science inside an engineering lab through Stanford University's RISE (Raising Interest in Science and Engineering) program. The intensive five-day a week internship had Alex applying computer programming to parse through data to find new materials, a job he found to be both eye-opening and difficult.
"It was stunning to see how much there is to learn. I had no prior computer programming experience and the whole material science and chemistry aspects are pretty difficult," Alex said. "I would say my biggest challenge there was going from no knowledge to becoming well-versed in the lab and the process."
But while the learning curve was steep, Alex said his experiences in his years at Serra prepared him to thrive in his new environment.
"I was definitely able to pick it up quickly and felt I was a standout when compared to others in the program," he said. It was also the classes offered at Serra, including AP Calculus, AP Biology and AP Physics, that were among those that prepared him for success at Stanford.
Alex said it was science teacher Mr. Patterson who encouraged him to apply to the internship and he is forever grateful.
"I really want to thank Mr. Patterson for encouraging me and giving me this opportunity. I would never have had this experience if he had not referred me," he said. "This was the opportunity of a lifetime."
This hands-on, working lab opportunity enabled Alex to recognize that while the materials science faction is interesting and detailed, he thinks he wants to study aerospace engineering. He hopes to attend UCLA, Cal Poly or Stanford.
Alex, who is a Trivia Club Captain, a member of the Democracy Club and NHS, said he is in the process of considering another interesting internship at Stanford this upcoming summer. Alex also runs cross country and track for Serra, and in his off time, he enjoys mountain biking.
Stanford's RISE program is a rigorous seven-week summer program for students interested in science, engineering, math, computer science and psychology. Interns work in an active research lab with a lab mentor. Learning opportunities during the internship include field trips, presentations, hands-on science activities and lab tours. For more information, visit https://oso.stanford.edu/programs/39-rise-summer-internship-program