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My name is Vanessa Melendez, and I am a Mechanical Engineering major. I will enter my third year at UCF when you read this! I am from South Florida and graduated from South Broward High in 2021. I am stuck deciding on my favorite class: Concepts in Computer Science (COP2500C) or Engineering Analysis: Statics (EGN3310). The computer science class was a great intro to using Python, while the statics class was a great introduction to applying math and physics to real-world engineering problems. Both professors for these classes were quite silly and a pleasure to work with. If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably say my Computer Science professor, Professor Dencker. I had his class during the summer of my freshman year, and he made programming in Python an absolute breeze- even in an accelerated course! I could tell he was passionate about his work, especially when his assignments were genuinely fun.

I wanted to get involved in GEMS because I knew a support group would help me better adjust to college life… I’ll be transparent with you. I came into EXCEL not so sure about my major. I started as a Civil Engineering major, but with personal research, after going through some STEM classes, looking at my resources, and asking for help from advisors, I was able to make a solid conclusion that my major had to change. I wish I could have talked with someone who went through what I did, or had dealt with a similar situation- really to talk it out and consider all my options. That is what I want to be for my mentees. Someone that will answer your questions, give you the resources you need, and steer you in the right direction if I don’t have a direct answer. When I have the time, I enjoy gardening, playing my guitar, playing video games, and listening to music. Some advice: If you have a question, ask it. If you need help, reach out. There’s no harm in asking for support.