Isabel–a second-year, trilingual, mechanical engineering student at Riverside City College–has been passionate about environmental issues since she was a small child. Born in Bolivia, Isabel moved to Southern California with her family at age 7. Isabel’s mom created beach and park “clean-up games” for her and her siblings to pick up trash, instilling the importance of taking care of and protecting the environment from a young age. According to Isabel, “growing up with these clean-up events shaped my need to get involved with environmental reform, especially within disadvantaged communities.”
Initially, Isabel dreamed of attending film school, with interests ranging from short film, music video, and environmental documentary production, the latter specifically focusing on environmental justice issues. But in high school, Isabel took an environmental science class, inspiring her to shift her focus to studying environmental policy, and later, mechanical engineering.
While acknowledging the importance of documentaries to bring public awareness to the numerous environmental issues currently plaguing our planet, Isabel was intrigued by the possibility of designing machinery to help reduce plastic in our oceans. A supporter of the Netherlands-based nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup, Isabel has a deep love for “practical design approaches that can make an immediate difference.” She hopes to focus her future engineering work on ocean cleanup, with an eye towards protecting marine life and collaborating with scientists and other engineers to prevent plastics from ever entering our fragile marine ecosystem.
A STEM friend first alerted Isabel to the California Climate Investments student ambassador program, for which she applied and was accepted in Fall 2018. Through the California Climate Investments student ambassador program, Isabel has had the opportunity to engage diverse audiences in discussion of topics close to her heart. Recently, she gave a wildfire prevention presentation at the University of California, Riverside, in addition to representing California Climate Investments at Las Posadas de Riverside Holiday Celebration through impactful tabling.
“The student ambassador program has been a great experience for me. I’ve been able to connect with people of all backgrounds and engage them in conversation about important environmental issues, which is very fulfilling”, she said.
Isabel is on the path to completing her associate’s degree at Riverside City College and transferring to a four-year university to complete her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Upon completing her degree, her goal is to work for Engineers Without Borders, a Boulder, CO-based nonprofit that designs and implements solutions for engineering projects worldwide that are community-based, community-owned, and community-maintained