Abigail Colmenares

Abigail Colmenares

Highline alumna looks to future in bioengineering

Abigail Colmenares was student ambassador for program that serves underrepresented students in STEM fields.

Growing up, Abigail Colmenares felt discouraged by her teachers. She believed they dismissed her because of her Latina culture and heritage.

But Colmenares knew from a young age she “wanted to be something grand.”

“I always said, since age 7, I was going to be a doctor,” the 20-year-old Highline College alumna said.

Now, after having graduated Highline College in winter 2019 with an associate degree in biology, Colmenares is enrolled at the University of Washington studying bioengineering.

And she credits Highline College for helping build back her self-confidence to get her to where she is today.

“I always thought school was something that was going to separate people,” said Colmenares, who lives at the border of Auburn and Federal Way. “Like, ‘Oh because you’re a Latino, you’re not going to be as good as…’ So, it was discouraging. But when I came [to Highline] it was a different acceptance. It was like a new awakening. Everybody here is super nice.”

Although Colmenares struggled working two jobs to pay for college and realized she needed to work on her time management and study habits, she said she appreciated Highline’s diverse student population and the way she was treated.

Instructors, such as Melissa Moehlig, a chemistry instructor, and Terry Meerdink, her math instructor, showed they cared about her and taught her how to study. While Osure Brown, retention coordinator of the Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) Program, helped her figure out a way to manage her busy life.

In fact, it was at MESA where she said she found her community at Highline College. Colmenares was eventually able to drop her second job and become a student ambassador for the program, which serves underrepresented students — including women and people of color— in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“Every time I go there, everybody knows me and I know them and it’s really cool,” she said.

Colmenares’ passion for science stems from her desire to help others. She said she has two pathways she’s interested in pursuing after college, which is to go into medicine or stay on the bioengineering path and conduct diabetes research.

“My family has a history of diabetes and it’s always been a reoccurring issue not only for my family, but outside my family,” she said, noting the disease’s prevalence in the United States today. “I was thinking that once I develop [solutions or a cure to diabetes] I could bring it into my little ranch in Mexico because, in my ranch, they don’t have clinics there and the closest hospital is two hours away.”

Colmenares explained the “little ranch” is located in a small town her father grew up in, yet she considers it her own because she visits the ranch often.

But, until then, the Husky looks forward to joining various STEM clubs, studying for her major and picking a minor. At the moment, she’s considering mechanical engineering or “maybe a fun elective,” like math, Korean, English or Spanish.

“I was also thinking of neurology, but I was like, ‘Maybe that’s too much on my load,” she said, smiling.

Learn more about MESA at https://mesa.highline.edu.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Vote for Best of Federal Way 2020

Vote for your favorite Federal Way restaurants, businesses, community leaders and more.

Don’t forget: Vote for Best of Federal Way businesses, leaders and more

Click here to vote for your favorite Federal Way restaurants, businesses, community leaders and more.

Commissioner James Fossos resigns from South King Fire board after lengthy absence

Fossos’s resignation is effective Feb. 29; South King Fire & Rescue board has until May 29 to fill the vacancy.

Aerial view of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment in 2017 near DuPont, Wash. Courtesy Wikipedia
Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state all named in derailment lawsuit

It was filed on behalf of the family of a teenager who was paralyzed in the 2017 crash.

Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way aims to restore stolen bonsai, raise funds to enhance security

National attention of the bonsai burglary brings an outpouring of support for the museum; anonymous donor to match donations made to the bonsai campaign until March 2.

Needles littered the ground throughout a homeless encampment at Federal Way’s Hylebos Wetlands, which is public property. Sound Publishing file photo
Republican leadership doubts effectiveness of homelessness spending

Democrats propose hundreds of millions toward affordable housing.

Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht gave a response to an Office of Law Enforcement Oversight report on Feb. 25 before the King County Law and Justice Committee. The report recommended ways her department could reform use of force policy and internal investigations. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Council unsatisfied with Sheriff’s response to use of deadly force report

The King County Sheriff’s Office could be required to explain why it didn’t implement recommendations.

King County approves low-income Metro fare waivers

Low-income transit riders could see their King County Metro fares waived beginning… Continue reading

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
Charter amendments could allow King County Council to remove elected officials

The change was recommended by the charter review commission.

Most Read