The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) is one of the College of Engineering’s newest student organizations. In the short time the organization has been on campus, students have already begun to connect deeply with the mission of the group.

Valpo’s SHPE chapter works to fulfill the goals of the national organization: change lives by empowering the Hispanic/LatinX community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness access, support, and development. At Valpo, that starts with members building each other up at every meeting, working to create a world where Latinos are highly valued and influential as leading innovators, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

On campus, the group supports members in and out of the classroom. Biweekly study tables help members keep academics at the forefront, while professional development opportunities, on and off campus, build confidence and networking skills for the organization. Both SHPE President Monica Magallanes ’22 and Vice President Abbi Damacio ’22 were invited to attend the national SHPE conference during their first year at Valpo.

Monica, a civil engineering major with a Spanish minor, was drawn to join the organization due to the unforgettable experience. “Not only did I become close with the upper-class students who invited me to the organization and the national conference, who eventually became my mentors, but I also was able to meet and connect with high-achieving engineers who look like me and came from a similar background,” Monica says. “You never know how much it affects you to have representation in your field until you go to a place where there are thousands of people who are like you.”

“It was an amazing experience,” Abbi says. “It gave me an edge on how to network and talk to recruiters early in my college career.” Abbi remembers how overwhelmed she felt her first year, and how joining SHPE changed that feeling while helping her connect with her peers as well. “It has made my college experience a lot more fun, and at the same time has really helped put me on the right track. I really hope we can continue to offer the same environment to our current and future members.”

Aside from attending the national conference, SHPE at Valpo provides members with professional development and community-building activities. This year SHPE has hosted a virtual forum to introduce new members to the organization and a presentation with a Caterpillar engineer, who gave a recruiter’s perspective on what students should do when looking for an internship. In previous years, the group created Crash Course to the Career Fair programming to help members write and revise resumes and elevator pitches, teach interview etiquette, and give an idea of what to expect. The group also decorates Gellersen for Hispanic Heritage Month, with banners and posters of famous Hispanic engineers and scientists.

The organization is not exclusive to those of Hispanic/LatinX descent, and meetings are regularly conducted in English. Monica says, “We offer tons of resources that help everyone be a better engineer, scientist, or mathematician, and we welcome you!”