Student Spotlight: Yecenia Caban Jimenez, U.S. Air Force

Princeton University Cohort

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student? 

I have always been the type of student who goes to class and then straight home. I never asked questions or participated in study groups or even took advantage of professors’ office hours. This was because I didn’t need to do that in grade school or even during the two Air Force technical training schools I attended. I was able to get great grades and understand the material without the need to ask questions, which is not the case anymore. That didn’t help me with projects where I had to work in teams because I was so accustomed to working alone, something that didn’t give me the opportunity to test my confidence. I did not consider myself to be a confident student for a number of reasons, from my age, my strong Puerto Rican accent, my physical appearance, and my visible/invisible disabilities. 

Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?

No, Warrior-Scholar Project was my first virtual learning experience. 

Why were you excited to participate in WSP?
The real reason I was very excited was that I was going to be able to visit, stay at, and take classes at an Ivy League school while getting to meet other veterans who, like me, believe in the power of education and who want to pursue higher education. I also wanted to add more people to my network, while at the same time sharing my networks with them, because I think that the veteran community is like a huge family and we should all be connected one way or another. 

What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?

I learned that I am capable of accomplishing great things and that if I give it my all, I can also help others see themselves reflected in me, believing in their endless possibilities and potential. I also learned that no matter where I came from or how my past looks, I can always strive for more if I really want to. My future is in my hands and there’s plenty of people ready and willing to give me a push when I need it. 

What were you looking forward to learning during STEM week?

I was definitely looking forward to learning about coding, how it can be used, and the doors that will be opened for me in the future. Also, I was interested to learn how diverse STEM careers are, and how there’s something for everyone, something that I wasn’t aware of. 

Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you this week so far?

For me, the entire team was excellent, from the professors to the brothers and sisters that attended the course with me! I am definitely grateful for that. 
I would like to mention a couple of them in particular. Let me start with Avery Carmichael, one of the fellows that was with us during humanities week. Avery is one of those people who doesn’t say much but is always there to be a cheerleader and to help you see and discover things about you that you thought were not possible. It is hard for me to relax and to feel free to be myself in front of groups, especially because I have been criticized in the past for that. Avery gave me the confidence and helped me feel at ease to be me, even from the distance over a computer screen.

Another person who I would like to thank and recognize is Professor Shaw, also from the humanities week. The first day he was with us, I was intimidated and even questioned if I had made the right decision when I accepted to attend the program. Then I gave him a chance to challenge me and to push me out of my comfort zone when it comes to books and reading selections. Professor Shaw is such a smart and eloquent human being and he made everyone feel okay to share conflicting opinions and learn how to use critical thinking in order to see history from another point of view. That was an eye-opener and something I will definitely use the rest of my life. 

Things I will also like to point out are Lucas’s personality, he is one of those people that everyone likes and can identify with in one way or another; Tyler‘s patience and wisdom while working with my group during the coding and research project, Jessica’s mellow vibes and listening skills. 

Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

The answer is simple: absolutely!

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