Undergraduate Overcomes Challenges to Pursue Passion for Astronomy with the Help of AvenueE
Mechanical and aerospace engineering undergraduate student Angel Fernando Meza Terriquez's fascination with astronomy and the study of space began at an early age but he encountered unique challenges during his time at UC Davis. With the support and resources given at AvenueE, Terriquez was able to overcome those to pursue his passion.
"I knew I wanted to take part in space exploration given that space still holds a lot of mysteries," he said.
As he approached his junior and senior years of high school, Terriquez realized that having hands-on experience in space exploration through designing and building satellites, rockets and scientific instruments were things he could envision doing.
"I love figuring out how things work as well as making things work," he said. "It all seemed like a puzzle to me, and that's what I started seeing problems as – just another puzzle to solve. I learned I could combine these interests through aerospace engineering."
Connecting problem solving with his love of space was the catalyst Terriquez needed to set him on his path.
Terriquez experienced levels of hardship and obstacles due to distanced learning during the pandemic. He transferred to UC Davis in the fall quarter of 2020 when classes were fully remote. Like many students, Terriquez found remote learning difficult to adjust to and he found his drive and motivation affected as a result.
However, his resilience and AvenueE's support allowed him to push forward. That journey began by attending weekly cohort meetings and speaking with AvenueE Program Coordinator Shannon R. Long.
"I worked hard towards bettering my grades since I was subject to academic dismissal," Terriquez explained. "By the fall of 2021, it felt like many things lined up for me to escape my spiral."
He participated in the 2021 Undergraduate Research Conference, or URC, as part of the structures analysis teams in the Space and Satellite Systems Club, or SSS. He became the lead of the Thermal Analysis team for the SSS. Terriquez also registered to take part in the 2023 URC to showcase how to model CubeSat in Thermal Desktop.
"The program has helped me immensely academically and mentally," Terriquez said of AvenueE. "Some may find it odd to say that AvenueE has helped me mentally, but if it wasn't for the community AvenueE creates and its professional staffing team, I would have drowned my first year after transferring. I have been able to succeed more academically and have gained more confidence in my knowledge/abilities with the support of the program."
As a result of the program's support, Terriquez feels optimistic about his future and career after UC Davis. His AvenueE mentor during the 2020-21 school year, Maxar Technologies systems engineer Aditi Ratnaparkhi, was able to advise him about the job industry and provide him unique advice about getting a job as an immigrant, something Terriquez related to as a DACA recipient. AvenueE also provided him resources from AB540 and the Undocumented Student Center that he felt he may not have found on his own.
"Looking back at everything, I feel like I have evolved greatly thanks to the help I received from AvenueE," he reflected.