The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019 - 18

Graduate Student Profiles

Graduate Student Profiles

research paper at the 7th Annual IEEE International
Conference on CYBER Technology in Automation,
Control, and Intelligent Systems.

Wendy P. Fernandez
Beta Pi
GEM Fellow

Wendy Fernandez is an alumna of the engineering
dual-degree program at Hostos Community College.
She graduated in 2014 as class Valedictorian, with
an associates degree in science. She subsequently
transferred to the City College of New York, where
she earned a bachelor's degree in electrical
engineering in May 2019, and was recognized as
a City College Great Grad and Salutatorian of the
school of engineering. For graduate study, she was
awarded a GEM Fellowship, a national fellowship
that helps minorities to go to graduate school, and is
attending Columbia University in pursuit of a master's
degree in electrical engineering. Her graduate study
will be fully sponsored by Columbia University and
Intel Corporation.
As an undergraduate, Wendy worked with
researchers from several institutions such as Hostos
Community College, Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT), City College of New York,
and Columbia University. Her research has been
recognized with the best poster presentation award
and honorable mentions in undergraduate national
conferences such as the Annual Biomedical Research
Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS),
Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and
Native Americans in Science Conference (SACNAS),
Columbia University Undergraduate Symposium;
as well as the best demo award in the 3rd ACM/
IEEE International Conference on Internet of Things
Design and Implementation. She also published a

THE BRIDGE

In addition to research, as an undergraduate, she
was involved with extracurricular activities and
volunteering, both on- and off-campus. She served
as the president of the IEEE-HKN chapter at City
College for the 2017-2018 academic year. Wendy
was also part of the Colin Powell Fellowship in
Leadership and Public Service at City College, a twoyear intensive program for undergraduate students
to prepare fellows for lives of public service and
active citizenship. She also participates in volunteer
work to promote underrepresented minorities in
STEM fields. She has been an invited speaker for
Engineering Conversation Day, Accelerated Study in
Associate Programs (ASAP), and Women in STEM
panel, all at Hostos.

My path to graduate school:
My motivations for graduate study were mentoring
other students and my passion for research. I
completed my first research project as a sophomore
at Hostos Community College. It was my first real
exposure to research and the process involved in
answering a scientific question. At first, I was nervous
and constantly doubting myself. As a first-generation
college student and an Hispanic woman in STEM, I
thought that a research lab was not the place for me.
However, I was lucky to have a supportive research
advisor who always motivated me. Because of that,
I gave poster and oral presentations from my first
research project on and attended conferences. I
discovered that I love to answer difficult questions
and share my results with my community. Thanks
to my research advisor's support, I was able to find
what I am passionate about and go for it. I want
to continue my education so I can keep answering
difficult scientific questions but also, to become a
mentor and encourage underrepresented minority
students to do STEM.
From the personal side, I hope to develop my
mentorship skills by working with undergraduate
students and encouraging them to do research. One
of my goals as a graduate student is to supervise a

research project or independent study for
an undergraduate student from a non-researchfocused institution or community college. I also want
to share available opportunities for underrepresented
minority students in STEM. In partnership with the
Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation
(LSAMP) chapter at the City College of New York,
I am organizing an information session about
the GEM Fellowship and the application process.
From the technical side, I hope to gain deeper
understanding of analog and RF integrated circuits
design and research novel architectures to strengthen
hardware security.

funding opportunities. In my case, I was looking for
opportunities that would sponsor a master's program.
That's how I found out about GEM.

Before applying to graduate school, I spent a whole
year debating between a direct Ph.D. program or
earning a master's first. I knew that I want to do
research, become a professor, and mentor students.
However, internally I was conscious of my desire to
explore options like industry before deciding on an
academic career. I decided to do a master's first as
a GEM fellow, so I can learn more about industry
thanks to the two internships program, and also
continue preparing myself for a Ph.D. program. This
summer I was able to intern at Intel Corporation,
my GEM sponsor. I gained better insight about
the industry and learned firsthand the differences
between academia and industry, all of this while
adding to my work experience.

4. "Voices From the Field: Real Life Research and
Internship Experiences"

To prepare for graduate school, a lot of selfawareness is needed. In my case, I first asked myself
the following questions: Why do you want to go?
Which topic do you feel passionate about? Do you
see yourself working in academia, industry or both?
Is this the right timing for you? Which program is
the best option? Then, I created a spreadsheet of
schools with programs that align with my research
interests. For each school, I added deadlines, GRE
requirements, names of professors I was interested
in working with, available funding, etc. A piece of
advice regarding the GRE, schedule your exam
ahead of time, study for at least three months
and take it as soon as possible. You don't want
to be dealing with the GRE, school applications,
and other responsibilities of your senior year all at
the same time. Finally, it is important to look for

I learned about the GEM fellowship through one of
the GEM GradLabs. Every semester GEM organizes
GradLabs at several universities around the country,
where they expose underrepresented students to the
benefits of research and technology careers. Some of
the topics covered are:
1. "Why Graduate School?"
2. "How to Prepare for Graduate School?"
3. "Understanding the GEM Fellowship", and

Attending the GradLab was my first step in applying
to GEM and I highly recommended it to anyone
who wants to apply. The application is split into
two sections. Section I, due around the middle of
October, is basic personal information such as GPA,
education history, research history, etc. The second
section, due in early November asks for a personal
statement, three letters of recommendation, selection
of three GEM companies, and selection of least three
GEM universities for graduate school. In January, I
learned that I was accepted as a potential GEM fellow
and I started the interview process with the GEM
companies that I selected in my application. After the
interview process, I was selected by Intel Corporation
(my GEM company). Finally, the last step is to be
accepted by April 15th by a GEM University, in my
case Columbia University.
For me, the GEM Fellowship is an opportunity to
simultaneously explore graduate school and industry.
It's allowing me to continue my passion for learning
and research by earning a master's degree, and
includes two internships at a top tech company - Intel
Corporation. I am confident that after completing my
fellowship, I will have a clearer idea of which one,
industry or academia, is the right fit for me. I highly
recommend the GEM fellowship to other students
who like me are undecided between industry or
academia but want to continue their education.
This is the perfect opportunity to explore both sides
of the spectrum.

HKN.ORG

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The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019

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