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Barbara Garcia: A First-Generation College Student Spends Summer Doing Research at PPPL

September 24th, 2019

As a first-generation college student, Barbara Garcia had to figure out a lot of things on her own when applying for college. Her parents were Mexican immigrants who didn’t go to college and couldn’t help her navigate the application process, couldn’t help her study for the SATs or look over her application essays. 

“Being a first-generation college student has influenced me by teaching me independence and helping me to carve my own path,” Garcia said. “I didn’t have my parents to guide me toward STEM – I just sort of found it on my own and discovered physics on my own.” 

Garcia forged ahead and found out everything she needed to know herself. That resourcefulness was useful to her as a Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program participant at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), where she spent 10 weeks doing hands-on research on an advanced liquid centrifuge with physicist Erik Gilson. She was one of 45 students who spent their summer doing hands-on research side-by-side with scientists and engineers at PPPL. 

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