My name is Mateo Sáenz, and I am a proud graduate of Queensborough Community College. To me, Queensborough was more than just a beginning. It was everything. It was here that I first conducted research, here that I discovered a passion for innovation through 3D printing, and it was here where I found my incredible mentors who opened up the doors that changed my life. At Queensborough, I found my own purpose for wanting to become a medical doctor!
I immigrated to the United States from Ecuador at seven years old to go to school in Corona, Queens. When I was applying to colleges, I was intrigued by Queensborough because of its research opportunities. One day I met Professor Michael Lawrence who welcomed me to the Advanced Manufacturing and 3D lab, and invited me to participate in the 2017 CUNY and Capital One Community College Innovation Challenge. The year before, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Ecuador and I lost contact with my family for two weeks. I told Professor Lawrence that I was focused on helping people in such dire situations and he encouraged me to use innovation to find a solution. That is when I developed and presented my idea of 3D printing a drone to locate people who are trapped underneath rubble during a natural disaster.
This pitch caught the attention of an investor from Capital One who believed I could turn this idea into reality. After months of preparation and practice, I applied for the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Teams grant and became the first community college student to receive this award! This program allowed me to travel around the world for a year interviewing first responders and survivors of catastrophic events such as the Southern California Wildfires, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and even the earthquake that struck my home country.
Deeply inspired by the people I was interviewing, I came back home to New York and enrolled in Queensborough’s Emergency Medical Technician program. I began working during the height of the pandemic, and since I have gone on to become a Nationally Registered Paramedic at a New York State Level-1 Trauma Center. I am an active first responder providing critical medical care and rescues of survivors. As I work full-time, I am also completing my bachelor’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, with the goal of attending medical school while starting my own socially responsible enterprise.
At Queensborough I found the right environment, the right mentors, and the right college to help me get to where I am today.