Paulina Cortes

Engineering Futures Scholar

Paulina Cortes, a first-generation biomedical engineering student said she’s always realized she likes helping people from an early age and felt inspired during her experience shadowing a professional from SynCardia Systems LLC, a place where they manufacture FDA-approved artificial hearts. 

“Just working one-on-one with the engineers, seeing how personally they take it and how passionate they are about solving problems for something that’s like, you know, it is life or death for people. I really loved it,” Cortes said. 

Cortes is an Engineering Futures first year scholar at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society and has shown interest in joining the student group Women in Engineering at Arizona State University. 

Cortes said being a first-generation college student has made her journey to becoming a college student stressful at times. Some of the obstacles she overcame were knowing how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), knowing which colleges to attend and which classes to choose.  

“My parents weren’t able to give me the help that they would have liked to or that maybe I would have liked to,” Cortes said. “It definitely makes me value the experience more.” 

Cortes grew up in Phoenix for most of her life but attended high school in Tucson. She chose ASU because she liked that the campus felt more like home than the colleges in Tucson.

Since enrolling, Cortes said the faculty is one of the most impactful things to her because she loves being surrounded by passionate professors who are doing things she strives to do in the future. 

The workload is heavy at school, but Cortes manages it well.

“If you like what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing that much work,” Cortes said. 

She said her biggest advice for incoming freshmen is for them to know that college is fun and to not be stressed out about it. 

“There’s a lot of things to do, and you can go out with your friends, and it’s very different from any other experience I’ve had, but there’s no other place I’d rather be,” Cortes said. 

She is looking forward to taking classes that are more related to her major, and to not be taking as many prerequisites. 

By Laura Stack, Science and Technology Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
August 4, 2020