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S-STEM Scholar Spotlight: Kyara Gandara

Kyara Gandara (she/her) is an S-STEM Scholar at San Diego State University. In this S-STEM Scholar Spotlight, Kyara shares about her experiences in her S-STEM program and how those experiences have contributed to her current path in STEM.

Two women stand side-by-side at a conference wearing name badges, smiling at the camera.

Kyara Gandara (left) met with Dr. Jaye C. Gardiner (right). Jaye studied illustrations and has a STEM PH.d. As an animator and Master’s Robotics engineer, she inspired Kyara to pursue her PhD! Courtesy of Kyara Gandara.

Being an S-STEM Scholar has been a life changing chapter in my life. For years I have been looking for a cohort that made me feel like I belonged. I’m part of MESA, SHPE, SWE, ASME, SACNAS, but being a S-STEM scholar is my Cinderella glass shoes, or should I say leather studded stomping boots. The event I participated in was the inaugural S-STEM Scholars Meeting in Washington, D.C. during the dates of September 14-16. Because of this experience, I have subscribed to the AAAS membership to look into more events. S-STEM was a dream come true; I was able to network with professionals participating in STEM research as well as art. I have a BFA in Animation and am pursuing a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering with an Emphasis on Dynamics and Controls.

To see powerful women complete their PhDs and still work on art projects, such as comic books and TV Show script writing, it reassured me that I don’t have to choose a pre-existing job. Rather, I can make one where I can be both a scientist and artist. These titans of women changed the end game in career building, where you can definitely work the job you enjoy. Not only that, meeting these women made me take up a research experience in SDSU’s Dynamic Systems and Intelligent Machines (DSIM) Lab as a Graduate Robotics Mechanical Engineer. Plus, I volunteer as Professional Development Co-Chair in the Society of Women Engineers’ San Diego County Professional Section. I’m a full time grad student, I have a part time research experience, and a part time volunteering experience. My schedule is full but I’m happy to use my new knowledge to help STEAM youth grow in their academic and career roads.


Students participating in a summer research experience standing in two rows in a science lab.

Summer 2023 Research Python Analysis experience in SDSU’s Flames, Aerosols, Nanosciences, and Energy Lab. Kyara’s PI Dr. Joaquin Camacho is an amazing mentor who still guides and teaches her. Courtesy of Kyara Gandara.

I want to be a Director of Robotics Engineering. I will manifest a new world order where people can be in a workplace that makes them feel included and respected. I have 100+ hours of professional development hours, and continue to participate. I love the rush and danger of a project with unknown outcomes. My romance is developing robotics that can make the lives of scientists and day to day people easier. I want to learn from professionals and interchange knowledge. I breathe empathy and patience for those who need me to be their assistant in their problem-solving or if they simply need my shoulder to emotionally regulate.

Eight people in business attire stand behind a lit up letters that spell out "Familia." The two people in the middle are holding up award plaques.

On 6/09/2023, Kyara attended her first SHPE Banquet. Kyara thanks Qualcomm ‘s representatives for awarding her the Qualcomm scholarship! Courtesy of Kyara Gandara.


Connect with Kyara on LinkedIn.

The S-STEM Scholar Spotlight series shares stories, builds community, and highlights students and alumni and their S-STEM programs. Learn more and submit your spotlight today.


Two women stand side-by-side at a conference wearing name badges, smiling at the camera.

Kyara Gandara

S-STEM Scholar

San Diego State University


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