Alejandra Leija's path to higher education brought her from the town of Parlier to Fresno State where she is majoring in mechanical engineering.
"I like the idea of using math and science and being able to build stuff," she says.
Alejandra earned a full scholarship from Fresno State's Lyles College of Engineering and a paid internship with a local firm.
Alejandra has been writing books since she was a little girl.
Her book called Cinderhuera earned her the young 'author of the year' award for Fresno County in 2009. She was already planning her career path.
"I wanted to be a doctor or an actor and a singer but now I really want to be an author," she says.
Alejandra is now 20 years old and solving calculus problems.
She encourages younger students to consider STEM fields.
"Even though Hispanics and young girls are not really known to be in this major, it doesn't matter you know it's about how much effort you put in it, so that shouldn't stop you," she said.
From writing books to solving calculus problems: Alejandra Leija's inspiring story