Rising Star in Hollywood Takes Charge of Career

Amber Velez, a senior at MIT, is known for her unconventional problem-solving skills. While she had a passion for trapeze and aerial circus arts, owning a lyra, a circular aerial hoop, was too costly. Instead of giving up, Velez took matters into her own hands during her sophomore year by crafting a budget-friendly lyra herself in a lab on campus. She found the MIT community to be quite supportive and eager to assist her.

To shape the lyra, Velez learned to use a tube roller tool from the lab staff. Transitioning into an introductory metalsmithing course at the Merton C. Flemings Materials Processing Laboratory, she had the opportunity to explore independently. MIT’s history of fostering innovation inspired her to create a sword with a dragon hilt using primitive techniques over an open flame.

Velez showcases her lyra in various locations on campus, hanging it from columns or trees. Reflecting on her experience, she acknowledges that MIT not only teaches technical skills but empowers individuals to acquire the abilities needed to realize their aspirations.

Embracing Creativity

Following a gap year exploring Europe, Velez entered MIT with a clear mission. Raised in Arizona, she witnessed the harsh effects of climate change in the Sonoran Desert. Motivated to bring about change through activism, STEM studies, and writing fantasy novels, she pursued her goals.

Constructing an engine by hand in a mechanical engineering course solidified her passion for creating. Specializing in clean energy and decarbonization, Velez embarked on a meaningful career path. Additionally, she developed a unique major combining Creative Writing and History, blending her interests seamlessly.

Completing multiple history courses in her sophomore year, Velez discovered her potential for a major in the field. Opting for a creative writing thesis rather than a traditional history thesis, she incorporated literature courses into her studies. Through these experiences, Velez links activism, politics, and historical events in her storytelling.

Collaborating with her thesis advisor, Joaquin Terrones, Velez is crafting a series of fantasy short stories set in the Sonoran Desert. Her interdisciplinary approach merges her historical knowledge with her literary imagination, emphasizing her commitment to advocating for a better world through technology and storytelling.

Empowering Others

As a student blogger for MIT Admissions, Velez discovered a supportive community of writers. Reflecting on her growth since starting her blog as a freshman, she found a platform to express her experiences and challenges. Overcoming academic hurdles and sharing her vulnerabilities led to a profound transformation.

A blog post about her struggles in an advanced physics class showed Velez’s resilience and authenticity. Embracing imperfection and the process of learning, she garnered encouragement from the MIT blogging community and her readers. Velez now aims to inspire high school students, particularly Latinx individuals, by emphasizing the importance of continuous growth and self-improvement.

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