For Harvard Latino students, What Happens in Vegas, Doesn’t Stay in Vegas

Harvard Square at 3 a.m. in the midst of midterm season. Instead of sleeping or studying, the four of us meet in a cold and empty Harvard Square. What could possibly tear us away from our books at such a crucial time of the semester? We’ve got a 5 a.m. flight to Las Vegas.

But we’re not going to Vegas in the traditional “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” sense. We are going there to meet with our familia. You see,  Harvard SOLES is part of a larger community, a larger family, the MAES Latino Engineer organization comprised of chapters all over the United States.

Harvard was first introduced to MAES in spring 2010. Two years, several conversations with MAES local chapter leaders and national leaders, and numerous meetings with administrators and peers later, Harvard SOLES has come to MAES’ Symposium as an officially recognized school organization. As a STEM undergraduate, Harvard has a multitude of resources available that include research opportunities, an Office of Career Services, and peer tutoring. However, a list of resources does not equate to a familia.

Our chapter comes to Las Vegas with the purpose of being a part of and contributing to the MAES familia, a community that encourages and supports Latinos to seek out engineering and science related careers and research. Hundreds of professionals in engineering and other related fields have come to the Symposium, giving time out of their busy schedule, to give the visiting students personal insight and guidance for future job endeavors. Over meals, awkward elevator rides, and strolls to and from workshops we’ve felt comfortable talking to professionals about topics ranging from work environments to a shared love of the west coast. During our time at the event, we truly feel a sense of a community as they passionately tell us about their beginnings in their field, why they love doing what they do, and how we can follow in their footsteps. So, what Vegas stories will you be taking back to your MAES chapter?