National nonprofit guides Fresno engineering students through their careers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Diana Gomez and Benjamin Camarena have been engineers in California for more than 30 years.

Both are Fresno State graduates and children of farmhands.

They are also life members of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers or SHPE.

It is a national non-profit organization that provides scholarships, mentorship and support to engineering students.

Camarena believes this helped shape his career.

“I came from Mexico when I was 12 or 13. And I had no idea I was going to get here. It’s amazing that looking back, SHPE allowed me to do a lot of things that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do,” Camarena said.

Camarena is the design and construction lead for the California high-speed rail project.

Gomez is District 6’s first Latina Caltrans manager.

She grew up in Parlier and remembers not having had the opportunity to take physics or calculus classes in high school.

Gomez recalls, “Once I got to Fresno State, I had to start trigonometry. And I couldn’t get into the first physics class, so SHPE was there to help me.

SHPE gave Gomez and Camarena the support system they needed to succeed.

Many of the nonprofit’s 10,000 members have a similar story.

“Having these role models see engineers who look like you, talk like you, and have a similar background…it helps you get there.” Camarena said.

SHPE will award approximately $1 million in scholarships this year.

Although they intend to provide support for Latino students, everyone is welcome to apply.

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