2021 Summer Capacity Building Intern
Name: Arlin Arpero
School and Major: The University of New Mexico, Geography with minors in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Community and Regional Planning
How did you become interested in STEM?
I attended Central New Mexico Community College and majored in Business. I was required to take a science credit, so I took Geography. My professor, Marissa Wald, had a passion for teaching Geography, and it made me fall in love with the subject! I learned that Geography is much more than maps; it’s about the people, how they live, and how we affect our planet. After completing my Business Associate at CNM, I transferred to the University of New Mexico and changed my major to Geography. I am now a rising Senior, pursuing my Bachelor of Sciences. At UNM, I have become more interested in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the technical side of Geography.
How did you get interested in the program?
I was working in food service and wanted to get experience in my field of study. I found out NASA had so much more to offer than space exploration and career options for engineers. After that, I honestly just applied to anything and everything NASA offered. I was fortunate enough to have the Capacity Building Program (CBP) reach out to me, and have my internship funded by the New Mexico Space Consortium. Now, I understand what the CBP does and how they are able to help people and communities with Earth observation data. It’s a great feeling to know my work this summer is going to make an impact!
How do you help the Capacity Building program area?
I work on a team with 7 other interns and we all contribute to multiple projects. The projects I am a part of are working to create Earth Observation trainings for Groundwork USA, creating a CBP StoryMap, generating a presentation for CALMet XIV, and assembling the inputs for a CBP Interactive Mapper.
Groundwork USA is an organization that assists low-resource communities in their environment, equity, and civic engagement. As a team, we are creating a virtual summer camp to teach the youth about remote sensing and data collecting.
A StoryMap is an ArcGIS Online product that combines story telling with the art of maps. I am co-leading this project, we are creating a StoryMap for the Capacity Building Program to highlight the history, projects, and people within the CBP.
CALMet XIV is a conference where we will be presenting the flooding tools EOTEC DevNet has collected by creating flooding scenarios and decision-support tools.
We are updating the current Biological Diversity & Ecological Forecasting interactive mapper to include data from CBP’s programs: DEVELOP, SERVIR, and ARSET.
What’s your favorite part of the job so far?
Since the job is all online, I was worried for the social aspect that comes with an internship. However, I was able to get to know my team and work closely with them virtually. I am a people person, so I enjoy all the social events my mentors (Lauren Childs-Gleason, Sydney Neugebauer, and Michael Ruiz) and my project lead (Ella Haugen) put together for us. I have noticed that NASA highly encourages networking and reaching out to others within the organization, this is something I have not experienced before in other work environments. There were so many networking events I was able to attend and not only meet interns outside my team, but across the country at other centers! Meeting others in the same career field is a great opportunity and I am learning so much from them.
What are your hobbies?
I love going to concerts; listening to music is something I cannot live without, so listening to live music is even better! I have attended many local shows here in Albuquerque, and I have traveled out of state to go to festivals. I also enjoy outdoors-y activities like hiking, camping, going to the lake, and off-roading. As well as spending time with my family, my friends, and my cat Burrito.
What motivates you?
My family motivates me the most. I am a first-generation college student, coming from a family of Mexican-Americans. My parents sacrificed so much for me to get a better future than the one they were given. They had trouble understanding why I switched from Business to Geography and what jobs I could obtain with a degree in science. This is why I strive every day to make them proud and show them I can be successful in a STEM career. This NASA internship helped prove myself and what I am capable of doing, making them much more supportive. I used to be ashamed of where I came from, but now my culture is a big part in who I am. It also motivates me to become a part of the few Hispanic women who are in STEM careers. I want to show others like me, that we can do more than what the world expects from us.