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Aurora Hurtado Olivas

Aurora Hurtado Olivas

Aurora’s love for chemistry education came from her experience as a high school tutor. Since she is in a dual degree program for Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology, teachers at the high school often utilize her when students have questions relating chemistry and biology. She noticed that many students fail to appreciate the importance of chemistry in our day to day lives. Aurora’s goal with teaching is to increase student curiosity in the subject in hopes that they pursue careers in STEM. Specifically, she wants to inspire minority groups to diminish self-doubt and succeed in the chemistry curriculum by encouraging them to seek out opportunities to work on the content outside the classroom.

As a peer advisor through the University of Arizona’s New Start Program, Aurora gained an understanding of what students need to be successful. During that summer, she taught a course to 18 incoming college freshmen. As part of that course, she covered topics in public speaking, presenting, diversity, and social justice. Here, she realized her desire to assist students through their journey in academic achievement. That summer she discovered her calling to be a teacher, but her specific subject selection stems from her high school experience.

As a tutor at Cholla High School, students would come to Aurora with chemistry questions. She recognized the struggles that the students went through when trying to understand chemistry. From her experience as a student and a school staff member, she realized that many students fell behind due to lack of content application. Her hopes to nourish students ambition by helping them apply to summer programs, colleges and scholarships.

For the past year and a half, Aurora has been working under the guidance of Dr. Michael Hammer at the BIO5 institute with the intent to uncover the pathways underlying epilepsy. He has allowed her the freedom towards innovation by allowing her to do literature reviews and select appropriate treatment that targets a protein, Tau. This past summer, she also had the opportunity to work under the guidance of Dr. Seth Brown at the University of Notre Dame to expand her comprehension in synthetic organometallic research and chemical mechanisms. She plans to teach that hard work and perseverance are qualities one must possess for success.

Aurora’s plan is to pursue education in underrepresented communities. The ACS-Hach Land Grant Scholarship for Chemistry Teachers will help pay for examinations required to become certified in teaching chemistry and help prepare for her first year as a high school science teacher. The ACS-Hach Land Grant Scholarship will take her a step closer to making her dreams of eliminating disparities throughout the education system, an attainable reality.