Maria Acosta Pedroza ’21

Major: Applied Physics with a Pre-Engineering Emphasis

What made you choose to major in applied physics?

Originally, I was planning to major in civil engineering, but Carroll offers the opportunity for students to major in applied physics and continue their education in engineering through the 3+2 program. I chose this major because of a class I took in high school. I enjoyed the class and I found the physics principles so interesting that I decided to study them in college.

What is your career objective? 

My objective is to become a civil engineer and change the demographic in STEM-related occupations because women and Hispanics are currently underrepresented in that field. Through my gain of experience and knowledge, I would like to educate other students from low income communities about the impact engineering has on the world.

How has what you’ve learned so far prepared you for your future?  

The Pioneer Core courses I have taken throughout my years at Carroll have allowed me to gain many new perspectives. While growing up on the south side of Milwaukee I interacted with a lot of people who had similar backgrounds as me—low income minorities. Once I got to Carroll, I was able to interact with people who from all over the world and with different socioeconomic backgrounds. I’ve had the opportunity to have a lot of educated conversations, inside and outside the classroom, about current issues that affect everyone. With this, I know I can go out into the world and have civil conversations with people with different backgrounds from me. I’m also able to work with people with diverse backgrounds.

What opportunities have you had to work closely with a faculty member and what impact has that had on your education?

The professors in the applied physics department make sure to provide opportunities that will enrich our education. I recently attended an engineering conference and my professors worked closely with me to make sure all costs were covered. In addition to financial help, they reach out and make connections with engineering firms around the area to help students gain knowledge from the firms around school.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in your education at Carroll?

I am a first-generation college student, so I was a little intimidated when I started school because Carroll’s cultural demographic is very different from where I grew up. But, never did anyone here—student or staff—make me feel as if I didn’t belong. There are so many people willing to help on campus and if you need help with anything there’s a chance there’s a department on campus that can help you resolve your problem. Attending Carroll University is a choice I do not regret.

How has Carroll enriched your growth as a person?

Carroll has transformed me into a more confident person. It has provided me with opportunities to take on leadership positions on various occasions. With those leadership positions I know that once I graduate, I can take those leadership skills and apply them to any job I receive in the future.

If you were recommending your major to a prospective student, what would you tell them?

There are a lot of people who shy away from applied physics because it’s a rigorous program. However, if this was an easy program everyone would do it. I truly believe that if I was able to get this far, you can do it too! There is a lot of academic help available all over campus, so there’s no excuse not to major in applied physics. Also, since this is still a smaller program, the students stick together and help each other get through classes. 

Do you receive scholarships? Tell us how your financial aid has made a difference in your life?

As a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy there are a lot of scholarships and government funded programs that I don’t qualify for, so scholarships and financial aid were major contributors to furthering my education. Every year it varies slightly, but this school year, Carroll awarded me with scholarships that covered 71% percent of my tuition. I have also received outside aid as a Stein Scholar through the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. If it wasn’t for the scholarships I’ve received, I truly believe I would not have attended college.

What’s your favorite place to study on campus?

My favorite place to study has changed over the years, but my first two years I spent most of my time in the library. In the library alone there are different areas to study depending on your level of noise preference. Some sections are louder than others, but there is a completely closed section where it’s quiet. In that same section there are spaces where you can sit by a window next to a heater and a desk. It’s a nice private place where I could focus on what I was doing. Now, my favorite place to study is in the lab rooms of the applied physics floor. It’s also a quiet place where some people in the program study.

Learn more about the the applied physics program

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