• YEAR: Senior
  • MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering
  • HOMETOWN: Naperville, Illinois

Nathaly Samper

For some students, Purdue's cultural centers are just a fun way to learn about diversity. But for Nathaly Samper, the Latino Cultural Center is her home away from home. At the LCC, she can hang out and work with students who have similar cultural backgrounds, and she's gaining leadership skills, which she hopes to use to inspire her siblings and those outside her family walls.

Engineering inspiration

Nathaly says she chose to major in mechanical engineering because it provides the greatest flexibility of all the engineering disciplines. She also hopes a background in engineering will help her inspire other young women.

"Thus far, I have not had the opportunity to meet any female Hispanic engineers," Nathaly says. "At first I was disappointed because I don't have a mentor in my field that I can really relate to, but now I see it as a goal. The goal being that I want to be that mentor for other female Hispanics looking to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. I want to do something in the future to reach out to a younger generation of diverse women and encourage them to explore engineering."

Big sister

Family is the most important thing to Nathaly. She says her siblings, Emily, 16, and Nicolas, 12, are the motivation to work hard because she wants to set a good example for them.

"I want them to be proud of me. My little sister is my biggest inspiration because I want to be a strong female role model and show her through example that anything is possible as long as you work hard," Nathaly says. "I want her to know that she can dream big and that as long as you are willing to work for it, you can accomplish your goals."

Cultural comfort

Outside the classroom, Nathaly spends a great deal of time at the Latino Cultural Center. She enjoys the leadership retreats, family days and the many opportunities to spend time with other Hispanic students.

"At the LCC you meet people that were raised just like you, that understand you on a different level from some of your other friends because they have the same cultural background as you," she says.

Everybody dance now

When Nathaly has free time, you can usually find her on the dance floor. She says one of the reasons she got involved with the Hispanic community at Purdue is to interact with other people who enjoy salsa dancing.

"I love dancing," Nathaly says. "I learned to dance by going to salsa clubs and just seeing others dance and having whatever partner took me out teach me a little at a time."