Luis Aguilar ‘T19’s NC State and Goodnight Scholars family has given him plenty to smile about!
Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Luis Aguilar ‘T19: I was born in El Picacho, which is a small pueblo in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. I am the youngest of seven siblings, and I am the first one in my family to graduate from high school and will be the first one to graduate from a university. I didn’t know any English when I came to the United States at the age of 13 and entered 8th grade. I graduated from Middle College High School at Durham Tech Community College and obtained my Associate in Science there as well. My intention, since I arrived in the United States, always was to pursue higher education and my dream of being an engineer. My family has been a great support to me, and honestly speaking, I would not be where I am today if it was not for all the support my siblings have given me. My family has been my motivation to keep going forward. Whenever things do not go the way I want them to go, I remember that I am here because I want to be a role model for my nieces and nephews and to be able to support my family members. Besides being a student, I enjoy attending church, playing soccer and following my favorite soccer team, Barcelona, which in my opinion, is the best in Europe. At night, I really enjoy watching the stars and hanging out with friends and family.
If you had to summarize your personality in one sentence, what would it say?
Mi cultura me ha enseñado a ser generoso, persistente y nunca olvidar de donde vengo. My culture has taught me to be generous and persistent, and to never forget where I come from.
How would you describe your life as an NC State student?
My life as an NC State student is really focused and classes are pretty all-consuming. It is really intense and very busy, and it has been one of the best experiences that I have had in my life so far. I have met awesome, intelligent students and have made best, life-long friends. We motivate and push each other to achieve our academic goals, study long hours together, and have great discussions. We also have a lot of fun. Also, I have met great professors that truly care about my academic success. Life as an NC State student can be really challenging and really gratifying. I have been constantly learning about myself as a student and as a person throughout my time here. I would say that my life as an engineering student here at NC State has always been very busy and sometimes very stressful; however, the community here at NC State is very supportive and there are lots of resources. The rewards and feelings of satisfaction and achievement are worth every minute.
Any personal accomplishments that you are proud of?
One accomplishment that I am proud of pre-NC State is to have graduated from Middle College High School and also to have obtained my Associate in Science degree at Durham Technical Community College. Being the first in my family to have achieved an education beyond middle school is something that makes me proud. None of my siblings had the opportunity to attend high school since back in my town, the highest level of school is middle school.
Since I was little, I have been taught that whenever I have the opportunity to help other people, that I must do it because life is about helping others.
What is one experience you need to have at NC State before you graduate?
I really want to do a co-op and/or an internship which are great professional opportunities that are possible as an engineering student at NC State. Also, as a Goodnight Scholar, I really have to go on the Mayventure trip to Vancouver, one of the cities that are in the path of becoming one of the greenest cities in the world. I want to learn about the infrastructure and experience the culture.
Tell us about your time in the Goodnight Scholars Program.
My time in the Goodnight Scholars Program has been very fulfilling. There are lots of workshops that provide valuable, practical knowledge and skills and there are lots of social activities that help you feel like you matter, you belong, and give you opportunities for some relaxation and fun. Not only has it given me the financial support I needed to get closer to my dream of being a professional civil engineer, but it has taught practical skills like time management and study skills for handling heavy class loads. Because of these practical skills, I have grown a lot academically and professionally. In the Program, I have met great people that will lend me a hand when I am struggling with a class and celebrate with me when all the hard work has paid off for that class. The Program staff provides great guidance and support. I feel so grateful to be a part of the Goodnight Scholars Program because it has helped me grow as a student, as a professional, and as a person.
What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?
Being a Goodnight Scholar has come to mean more to me than I imagined. The Goodnight Scholars Program has made a tremendous impact in my life. It has influenced and affected me, not just through the financial support, but also through the academic and other guidance I have received. The College of Engineering at NC State is very demanding, and the Goodnight Scholars Program staff has been right there for me, connecting me with the resources I need, so that I can give the best of myself in every thing that I do. Their kindness and support has meant the world to me. They are always there to help me and guide me in the good times and bad ones and give each of us the personal attention in whatever way we need because they really do want the best success for us. They have shown me that generosity and kindness are very essential in life.
Do you have an unforgettable memory from your time in the Program thus far?
There have been so many experiences that I will never forget from times of being so nervous when I first met Dr. & Mrs. Goodnight, to getting really caring, practical advice and guidance when I was struggling, to learning concrete skills in different workshops. I have so many memories I will never forget. One unforgettable moment in the Goodnight Scholars Program that I will mention here is from a social event. We went to the Extreme Combat Paintball Park and I never played paintball before. We had a blast playing paintball games together and with other random people that were at the park that day. I will never forget this event because that day of the event the weather was horrible. We didn’t expect it, but it was freezing cold and raining and totally muddy and I forgot to wear a jacket. Plus, I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt. If you ever go paintballing, never wear a short-sleeved shirt no matter the weather! No one complained or wanted to back out. Every one of us in the Goodnight Scholars Program had this enthusiastic, positive attitude and just wanted to relax and have fun. We were all on the same page. To us, it really did not matter that it was raining or that it was really cold. We wanted to play and have fun as the Goodnight family that we are. It was a bonding experience. At the end of the day, we were all covered in mud and bruises. A few of us destroyed our shoes, but we were thankful that, at least, we didn’t have it as bad as one guy at the park in sandals and shorts! We laughed so much and that was a great, great day.
Where do you picture yourself after graduation?
I intend to go to grad school at NC State for a master’s degree in civil engineering and to do research at the Constructed Facility Laboratory on campus. I plan to own a civil engineering firm one day and to “pay forward” my achievements by doing things like mentoring young Latinx students interested in engineering, raising scholarship money for Hispanic students that cannot attend a four year university because of their economic status, etc. Since I was little, I have been taught that whenever I have the opportunity to help other people, that I must do it because life is about helping others.
Photography credit: Jason Perry/Goodnight Scholars Program