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Ana María Tárano

Ana María Tárano

PhD candidate
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Story originally published on Sep 2018
I’ve been at Stanford for almost 10 years working on my bachelor’s, master’s, and now my PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Currently I work in the Space Environment and Satellite Systems lab. I assess the asteroid impact threat by using machine-learning techniques to improve asteroid modeling.

The student community has really supported my well-being outside of the lab through activities that interest me. An inspiring outlet has been the Diversity and Advocacy Committee of the Graduate Student Council. It touches on so many aspects that help to make me whole. I am excited to continue advocating real change for graduate student issues that I am passionate about – mental health, inclusivity, and funding for families – through a unified, organized voice. It is fulfilling work that has helped me to find a greater sense of belonging at Stanford. Strengthening my community outside of the classroom has made me stronger academically.

Our diverse student population offers fresh perspectives, new learning opportunities, and inclusiveness that enrich the academic experience. Embrace this diversity through student activities and interdisciplinary classes. Ignore the typical baseline for success that students give themselves, and focus on self-growth and your own individual learning experience. Fill in the gaps to make yourself whole. Be vulnerable and try something new. You may not be the best at it and that’s OK. Don’t be afraid to define what success looks like for you.

I love my research, but if I were to put all of my self-value in my work, I’d end up disappointed. I am an engineering graduate student, but that isn’t the only identity that defines me. I am a first-generation Cuban American immigrant. Empathy, creativity, and curiosity fuel me. I am a change-maker, nurturer, and designer. I believe in equity and am passionate about human rights. I express myself through fashion, art, and telenovela mannerisms. These are the things that make me whole.

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