Champion Spotlight: Amelie Jimenez
With curiosity, determination and interest in many subjects, Amelie Jimenez discovered the path to chemical engineering through programs offered at the TGR Learning Lab. While excelling academically and being involved in many extracurricular activities, Amelie expanded her knowledge, skills and experiences through TGR Foundation programs from 7th grade through the end of her senior year of high school.
As she navigates her collegiate journey at the University of California, Berkeley, what she values most from her experience is the confidence to explore opportunities without fear. While preparing for her midterms she took time to share more about her journey and what she’s looking forward to in the years ahead.
TGR Foundation: How did you learn about TGR Foundation and get involved in its programs?
Amelie Jimenez: I first learned about TGR Foundation in elementary school when I was placed in a forensic science course. I remember going back home to my mom and telling her how I was able to extract my fingerprint and everything new I learned. It wasn’t until middle school that I was able to take an after-school class. I remember learning about the different courses being offered over the summer. I don’t believe I’ll ever forget the day my mom woke me up early to be the first one in line ready to register for my class. Based on the small exhibits shown by each instructor, I decided to take universal science as my first class.
TGRF: What are your favorite memories from your participation in our programs?
AJ: One of my favorite memories at the TGR learning lab was going to Disneyland and attending the engineering session backstage with Disney Imagineers. This was a really fun experience because we were able to ask questions and learn all about the history of the making of the ride Star Wars Rise to the Resistance and get to ride the attraction before it opened to the public.
An experience that had the greatest impact was attending a summer camp at UC Santa Barbara. I was able to focus on my health and get to experience a bit of dorm life; this was a great preview for me to be away from my family and put myself in an environment I hadn’t been in before. Because of this experience, I was able to learn how to focus on myself mentally and physically as well as develop social skills with my roommate and other camp members. I will always be grateful for the TGR Learning Lab because it gave me the opportunity to attend a summer camp and made that summer unforgettable.
TGRF: How did your TGR Learning Lab experiences impact your relationship with your brother?
AJ: We realized we enjoyed STEM classes and have learned more about each other’s interests. We did take one course together during our time at the learning lab and it was a dance class, it was quite interesting because we both had a great time learning. Through that class and connections with educators at the TGR Learning Lab, my brother and I connected even more.
TGRF: How have you used the skills and experiences you gained through TGR Foundation programs?
AJ: There are several skills that I gained through the TGR Foundation, however, there is one skill that has stood out to me, and I continue to use it to this day. That is to put yourself out there and try new things. I took several courses throughout my time at the learning lab, which range from dance to archeology, forensic science, photography, and sports medicine. Because of the learning lab, I have never been afraid of new experiences, and this skill I use to this day in college.
TGRF: What advice would you give to other students?
AJ: A piece of advice I would give to other students is to try everything, even if you believe you can’t succeed. I was involved in a lot of programs during high school, this would range from marching band to sports, and excelling academically. Always believe in yourself even if others don’t, don’t stress out if you feel like it’s too hard; take a break and then continue. A lot of people would come up to me and ask how it was even possible, to do all three at once, and I would say as long as you have the dedication and determination, anything is possible.
TGRF: What excites you about your future and where do you see yourself in the next five years?
AJ: I’m fulfilling my dream by going to college and pursuing a career in chemical engineering at one of the top universities in the world, making my family and myself proud. In five years, I will be a college graduate with my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. With the research and internships, I hope to have done during college, I will begin my career and start a new chapter in my life.
TGRF: We believe everyone can be a champion. What does it mean to be a champion to you?
AJ: Being a champion doesn’t necessarily mean winning trophies or medals at award shows or sports games; it’s visualizing yourself as a winner. Everyone always faces failures at some point in life, the only determination of a champion is being able to acknowledge failures and move on. At their lowest point in life, whether academically or mentally, a champion is someone who can move on and be successful.
TGRF: Do you see yourself as a champion? If so, why?
AJ: I do see myself as a champion because high school was a bit rough for me during quarantine, I lost the motivation to be an exceptional student like before, I used my time in quarantine to enjoy myself and have fun. But once reaching junior year and knew I was still going to be taking classes over zoom, it seemed like an easy year. I was wrong, I was given countless assignments and slowly my grades were dropping from A’s to low B’s. I knew junior year counted the most especially for college applications. Fortunately, I was able to bring my grades up even after the lack of motivation I had. I recognize myself as a champion who persevered and acknowledged my failures but pushed them to the side. I then became satisfied with myself as college acceptance season came by. Even through my hardships at one of the most important times in my education, I was able to accept my failure and overcome it. I chose UC Berkeley as my home for the next four years; I’m thankful and feel accomplished.
TGRF: Who have been champions in your life and career path?
AJ: My parents are my champions in life because they have always been there for me, supporting me in every decision and making it possible for me to attend one of the best public universities, UC Berkeley. They have been my biggest support since the very beginning; they would always be there for all of my band performances, cross country and track meets, as well as my swim meets and all my award recognitions.
Although this may seem like a lot, my parents have also been there for every event my brother and sister had. They continue to be my champions, even being over 300 miles away, they always check in on me and make sure I’m doing great academically.
TGRF: How are you paying your experiences forward and why?
AJ: I’m currently paying my experiences forward by telling my story. I know there are many students out there who have faced similar problems as I have and are dedicated and hard-working, so hearing my story can encourage them to believe in their dreams and not give up. I am also someone who can be looked to for advice in any given circumstance, I have always been there for my family and friends, and I hope to be there for others as well.
At TGR Foundation we believe everyone can be a champion. In this series, we highlight champions in our community from educators, volunteers and corporate partners to students lifting as they climb.
Visit TGRFoundation.org/champions to learn more about our programs’ impact and ways to get involved.