Scholar, mentor, graduate: Project Management alumna works towards a better future

Sorayda Santos

When Sorayda Santos decided to pursue a project management certificate in 2016, she had little idea of the domino effect of accomplishments that would ensue. Only two years later, she had received her master’s degree in project management and earned two promotions.

Santos lives in San Diego, California, and earned her project management certificate at UC-San Diego. She then transferred her credits to UW-Platteville.

While in the M.S. in Project Management program, Santos met the late Dr. Ginger Levin, former instructor of the project management capstone course, who quickly went on to become a close friend and mentor. “Dr. Levin challenged me, made sure my work was superior,” Santos said. “She provided great guidance and made sure I applied what I was learning to all aspects of my life.”

With Levin’s guidance, Santos created an afterschool program for high-schoolers in National City, California, which showed them how to grow organic vegetables, and then make easy recipes from the harvested ingredients. It wasn’t long before the project flourished into a success.

“Towards the end of the program, we tried adapting more to what the students wanted and helped them learn to cook the dishes they craved,” Santos said. “Now there are talks to continue the program, depending on funding and finding an available instructor.”

“They encouraged me to keep pushing, to not hold anything back. They helped me realize that too often we decide to settle, and we really shouldn’t.”

Santos became part of UW-Platteville through a scholarship from the NSF STEM Scholar Master’s program—a scholarship program designed to help students pursuing STEM majors, provided through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The scholarship program also provided Santos with a peer mentor and career champion.

“I had a great relationship with my peer mentor and champion and still talk to them,” Santos said. “They encouraged me to keep pushing, to not hold anything back. They helped me realize that too often we decide to settle, and we really shouldn’t.”

Santos later became a peer mentor to two other scholarship recipients, offering her own advice and encouragement. “Most recipients don’t realize the NSF scholarship program offers so much,” she said. “That it’s more than just a scholarship program. I’d encourage everyone currently enrolled to take advantage of all the aspects available.”

This advice encapsulates Santos’ own journey—by working with the people, opportunities, and resources available to her, she achieved professional and educational success.

Over the past year, she received two promotions while working for the fast-food chain Jack in the Box and now provides guidance for company operations at their corporate headquarters.

Santos graduated in December 2018. “I want to thank the faculty and staff at UW-Platteville and in the NSF scholarship program for everything they did for me and continue to do for their students,” she said.