Degree Celebration speaker challenges classmates to take risks and reach beyond comfort zone

May 22, 2017   /   by Martha Bushong

Francisca Ortiz came to the United States from Chile when she was 10 years old. Like many students at Mason, she chose to study here because of the school's location in the heart of Northern Virginia. She understood that the school's proximity to Washington D.C. would provide a wealth of opportunitiesfor jobs, intenships, and research.

Her work as a researcher at the Micor-Scale lab in the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study fueled he passion for research and led her to advanced student. After graduation, Wood will be working at the National Institutes of Health as a postbaccalaureate researcher before she heads off to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to earn her PhD in bioengineering.

Wood's desire to help other students led her to create a mentoring program that pairs bioengineering seniors and juniors with freshmen and sophomores to guide underclassmen through the challenges in bioengineering. She hit on this idea because, as a freshman, she felt somwhat bewildered about how to get involved and said she would have benefitted from having a student mentor.

In her degree celebration remarks, she remembered the challenges of her undergraduate courses, and celebrated the victory of graduation. She encouraged the audience to move boldly into the future and to be proud of their Mason engineering education.

Read the speech's text.