High school is just the STEM for this senior’s future!
By RANI CHOR
A coding whiz, passionate robotics team captain and steller scholar, senior Alex Arteaga is pushing his creativity to its limits.
An active robotics team member since freshman year and currently an International Baccalaureate (IB) student, Arteaga is the epitome of hard work and passion. His unrelenting efforts towards not only bettering himself, but the students around him, has resulted in numerous awards such as winning first in the 2017 state finals for the Chevron Design Challenge.
Ultimately, his four-year academic pursuit for a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) pathway began Arteaga’s freshmen year when he took a chance in signing up for the robotics team.
“I was too shy to try out for my middle school’s robotic team, so I thought I would give it a try [freshman] year,” Arteaga said. “I ended up loving it, and after making it into robotics as a programmer, I just kept going from there.”
However, STEM was not always Arteaga’s main focus.
“In middle school, I did not do much STEM related activities besides the classes offered,” Arteaga said. “In fact, I was not even going to choose engineering as my first elective. [Initially] I chose business; however, that got cancelled, so I got engineering as my second choice.”
Despite a rocky start, Arteaga has worked hard to stay in pace with his rigorous classes and demanding extracurriculars by constantly improving on himself.
“Over the years I have noticed a repeating pattern [regarding] my time management skills. I have a problem when it comes to saying no to people, and as a result, I would overload myself,” Arteaga said. “In middle school I was really independent, but I have learned to be [more] responsible and ask for help.”
Furthermore, though math and science took up most of Arteaga’s studies, he still found time to improve his skills in English.
“[In] my freshman year, English was not as fun as it is now which is why I would spend more time doing math and my academics became [unbalanced],” Arteaga said. “I thought I was [terrible] at English and I had bad anxiety [as a result]. But I talked to my teachers and I have seen a big improvement since.”
Since the summer of his sophomore year, Arteaga has volunteered to help run CODE camp by teaching students about the different aspects of coding in today’s world.
Additionally, Arteaga has applied the knowledge that he has gained from his STEM-related activities to the curriculum in his classes.
“I tried to animate one of my chemistry labs [during] junior year for fun,” Arteaga said. “Instead of doing 100 coin flips [by hand], which the lab required, I thought ‘I can program a computer to do this in seconds.’”
Nonetheless Arteaga always remembers to shoutout his friends and family, especially Wilson alumnus Kalvin Chang, who helped introduce Arteaga to code the summer of freshman year.
“I first learned coding early June of 2015. Kalvin Chang, who was a sophomore at that time, recruited me in his programming summer camp. That summer I went to his house once a week for six weeks,” Arteaga said. “Kalvin was the one who introduced me to Java and asked me to help start the CODE club with him. He became my best friend for three years, even after he went to college, as a result.”
Overall, Arteaga owes a great part of his success to his friends, family and especially, his teachers, who were always there to support him in his STEM pursuits.
“My friends and [especially] my parents have been really supportive these four years,” Arteaga said. “The people who inspire me the most, are my teachers, I can go to them for help and know they will guide me to being my best. Talking to my teachers has been really helpful because they understand the stress I am going through.”
In fact, many of these teachers have become Arteaga’s role models.
“I look up to Mr. Ro who has been my engineering teacher for the past four years and Mr. Han who makes sure that I’m not being what he calls complacent. Mr. Fessenden, I look up to him because he was an engineer himself but then he went to teaching because that’s what he wanted to do.”
Whether it be crunching numbers, or spending a tremendous effort on his robotics team, Arteaga is where he is today because of hard work and his passion for learning.
“Everyone says I am super smart, and to some degree I will say I have high math scores. But I think I score highly in math because I love math,” Arteaga said. “So it is not that I am a genius [more so] that I just spend a lot of time on that particular subject and I love learning.”
Out of the hundreds of high school students competing for academic recognition, Alex Arteaga stands out for not only his achievements but the passion that so clearly drives his creativity. In Arteaga’s words, “If you’re ever thinking of the future, do what makes you happy.”