May 27, 2020
Preston Kendall, President, Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep
Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep is a co-sponsored ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
An excerpt from an interview with Laura Pizano
by John Geis
Laura (CRSM ’13) and I spoke about her e-classes at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and her challenges as a Hispanic woman in a field dominated by men.
JG: Thanks for meeting. It sounds like you’re doing well in spite of the pandemic; you’ll graduate MSOE in 2021.
LP: I’m thinking about going directly for a Masters of Engineering. That will delay things a bit.
JG: Some CRSM graduates find adjusting to college challenging. Was that your experience?
LP: It was more of a cultural adjustment. I was not prepared to enter a predominantly white, male environment as a Hispanic woman. In my architectural class, I was the only girl.
JG: Did you find resistance because of your Hispanic heritage?
LP: Sure. Someone once asked me if Mexico had electricity [laughing]. I told them we mostly use fire. But seriously, I have come to the conclusion that the problem is most of my classmates have had little multi-cultural experience. They might seem “stuck-up,” but they just aren’t sure what to say – just like I didn’t know how to act.
JG: Soon you’ll be a member of a relatively small club – Hispanic females with a Master of architectural engineering. Any advice for others who may encounter these barriers?
LP: Sure. You have to push out of your comfort zone. If a person doesn’t reach out, you might have to do the reaching. Sometimes you’ll get turned down. You must keep an open mind to succeed.