By Jenny Wells-Hosley
Per University of Kentucky tradition, UK President Eli Capilouto has selected student representatives to speak at each of the four UK Commencement Ceremonies. Graduating chemical engineering senior Sofia Gonzalez Schuler will be one of four student speakers. The ceremonies will be held Friday, May 3, and Sunday, May 5, in Rupp Arena.
Gonzalez Schuler, from Margarita Island, Venezuela, will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony on May 5. She is graduating with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the UK College of Engineering. She has also earned a certificate from the college's Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK).
During her time at UK, Gonzalez Schuler has served as public relations chair for the UK Society of Women Engineers, and founded the UK chapter for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, in which she currently serves as president.
Gonzalez Schuler has also obtained research experience as an undergraduate, serving as a research assistant in the UK Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering and completing an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at UK. She has won various awards in her field, including first place at the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE) 2018 National Conference's student poster competition.
Outside of UK and her studies, Gonzalez Schuler volunteers at Cardinal Valley Elementary’s after-school science program.
"My experience is an example (to my fellow graduates) that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that you are meant to do something in this world," she said. "I am very excited because my parents are flying all the way from Venezuela for graduation, and I felt this speech would be a perfect moment for them also to see how far I have come, and how their support and sacrifices allowed me to succeed these past few years."
She says her time at UK has been a journey of opportunity and growth, where every day she was challenged to be better and improve. That journey has shaped her into the person she is today.
"I just hope that I am an example to people in my country," she said. "Although we are going through a difficult time, I want them to just believe in themselves and work hard for their dreams — even if it means leaving your family hundreds of miles away.”
For her fellow graduates, she wants to share two important lessons she has learned.
“Never underestimate yourself, and aspire to inspire."
After graduation, Gonzalez Schuler will be attending Northwestern University to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering.