Monica Moya, an early career biomedical engineer researcher in the Materials Engineering Division, was recognized with a Millennial Leader Award at the EmpowHer Institute’s Rising Stars Awards event held last month in Hollywood, California.
This prestigious award acknowledges women under 40 who demonstrate promise as future decision-makers, have demonstrated excellence in their professional endeavors and who are accomplished professionals working for the advancement of girls and women in the arts, business, public service and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
Moya, a native of the Los Angeles area, was the first in her family whose academic pursuits extended beyond high school. “I grew up in a culture that unapologetically and unabashedly considered women of less importance and ability,” she said. “I was fortunate to have mentors and role models to point out to me that that just wasn’t true, which has made all the difference in my life.”
Earning a doctorate in biomedical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology is what she is most proud of. “There were so many moments along the way when I questioned (and many times my family as well) if this, Ph.D. in engineering, was something someone ‘like me’ could really be capable of achieving,” Moya said.
“I always say that getting a Ph.D. is like training for a marathon. Most people think you are crazy for doing one and it requires quite a bit of training,” Moya said. “You don’t do one because you think you are going to win it all, you do it because it’s something you want for yourself and it feels amazing when you accomplish that goal.”
Moya was nominated as a Millennial Leader by Tony Baylis, director of the Lab’s Office of Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Programs (OSDIP), and a member of EmpowHer’s advisory board.
“Monica is one of LLNL’s talented young scientists and an excellent role model for the girls in the EmpowHer Institute,” Baylis said. “She is determined to succeed in following her passion for science and engineering and demonstrates a work ethic and leadership skills that all young girls would admire.”
“I felt extremely humbled to be in the company of all the other great women who were also recognized,” Moya said. “For me, it wasn’t just recognition of my accomplishments, but an affirmation of the importance of empowering young women. Just being at the event among passionate educators and philanthropists was a powerful and inspiring experience.”
Co-sponsors of the event included LLNL, Edison International, IMRI, Honda, US Bank and Time Warner Cable.
To view a video covering of the event, see YouTube.
The mission of the EmpowHer Institute is to help young women navigate life’s obstacles and inspire them to climb the ladder of success through education, training and mentorship. EmpowHer works with an average of 300 underprivileged girls and young women annually to create opportunities that can improve their overall socioeconomic status. Their goal is to reduce the high school dropout rate for low-income middle- and high-school girls who are at risk of educational failure. Their strategy is to provide sisterhood, relevant training, choice in decision-making and to demonstrate resiliency as a means to overcome poverty and to help young women meaningfully serve their communities.