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Class of 2023 Advisors

Graduating from the AISS program exceeded our expectations. Every year, our program concludes the academic year by celebrating at Edwards Lifesciences with our Bridging the GAP event; in short, we call it BTG. Connecting students to success is one of the reasons why we call this event Bridging the Gap; AISS focuses on bridging, or connecting, the gap between lower income/underrepresented communities and STEM professional career fields. 

During the BTG 2023 event, everyone got the chance to see our amazing college reveal videos, and the social enterprise projects we began working on last year. There was so much laughter and joy between the scholars and guests. One of our alums, Karla Ramirez (Co-owner Tera Engineering), entertained everyone with her beautiful violin playing during the meet & greet. Everyone really enjoyed themselves. We also received our awards for certificate of completion and recognition for doing a fantastic job in the program. Congratulations to Hieu Pham for receiving the Scholar of the Year award. Overall, our Edwards Lifesciences hosts created a welcoming environment for AISS guests and partners. In addition to networking and having a great time, our major goals were to fundraise for the upcoming class of AISS Scholars and celebrate the accomplishments of our current class of 2023. We are excited that we exceed our fundraising goal --- thanks to all of you!

As we head off to college, we got the chance to come back to AISS to work as advisors for the new scholars during the summer 2023 program thanks to Ms. Debbie. Working with the new scholars has been like seeing ourselves in the past as we were the new scholars in the program. Furthermore, as advisors, we have set fun icebreakers and games for the scholars while they prepare for their Junior year. We wish the best for the scholars and the program to grow bigger every year. Thank you to all our supporters!


Hieu Pham

Hello, my name is Hieu Pham. In the fall, I will attend Fullerton University as a business major. I’m so excited to head off to college, but I always miss all the amazing memories I have made over the past 2 years. I thank AISS and Ms. Debbie for guiding me toward my current position I am at today. This summer, I’m currently doing an ip in which I have enjoyed so much. I have met so many wonderful people, and friends. Visiting the Edwards campus and being around the Edwards community have inspired me to reach higher and higher. Lastly, I  thank my parents for taking care of me these past few years in high school. 

Giselle Barrera

Hello everyone! I am Giselle Barrera and I recently graduated from Godinez Fundamental High School. I will be heading to UC Davis in the fall to study Biochemistry! Thanks to AISS I was able to prepare myself for college applications, decisions, and now the big part, which is actually going to college. BTG at Edwards Lifesciences is always a pleasure to attend as it is another great opportunity that AISS gives us to network with real professionals. It is also beautiful to see the impact that AISS has left on alumni so many years after graduating. This makes me so excited to head to Davis and take on every opportunity that I know will benefit me. As for now, I will stay focused on the Edwards Externship that I achieved through my efforts in AISS.

Maximo Alaniz

My name is Maximo Alaniz, and I am a recent graduate from Segerstrom High School. I will be pursuing an aerospace engineering scholarship at Missouri University of Science & Technology. As of now I am working as an Alumni Advisor for the AISS program because I have seen firsthand how AISS turns young ambitious scholars into professional young adults ready to take on the college and career worlds. Through AISS, I was able to achieve many opportunities and gain skills that I didn’t have prior to partaking in the program so I wanted to give back and help the next generation of scholars do the same.

Damon Le

Hello! I am Damon Le. I graduated from Segerstrom High School and will be attending UCLA in the fall for Civil Engineering. Looking back on these two years I am very fortunate to have been in this program because I have met many people who have impacted my life. Without this program, I wouldn’t have been able to smoothly complete the college application process. At the end of the program, being able to attend the BTG event and see how AISS has impacted alumni and the numerous sponsors who want to help this program, that has inspired me to give back as an alumni advisor. I am very excited to be able to help out new scholars in this transition from high school to college because I have gone through the process myself and I think I can provide advice and guidance to the new cohort.

Nicole Pacheco

Hello, my name is Nicole Pacheco. I recently graduated from Godinez Fundamental High School and in the fall I will be attending Chapman University to study Computer Science. AISS completely changed my life. Without it I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today. The BTG event was a great example of how much knowledge AISS has provided me with. I got to network with a variety of professionals as well as showcase the amount of work and effort I put into not only AISS but as well as my college applications. As I finished high school it was only right to give back to the program that started it all for me, which is why I will be an advisor for the new cohort of 2025 scholars throughout the summer!

Julissa Mendoza

Hello, I am Julissa Mendoza, I have recently graduated from Saddleback High School and will be attending Cal State Fullerton in the fall. I will be studying Business Administration. I am grateful for these past two years with AISS. I have learned so much about the professional world and myself. It definitely helped me through my college application process, guided me on choosing what was the best option for me. Now that high school has ended, I look forward to heading off to college. I am nervous yet excited to start a new chapter of my life. I am returning as an Advisor to give back to this program and share my experience with the new scholars. 

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