Outstanding grad: Leonor Camarena

With involvement in a variety of areas, Leonor Camarena exemplifies the interdisciplinary spirit of ASU.

As part of her Barrett thesis, Camarena addressed issues of inequality in the ROTC program at ASU and other universities. She was in the Naval ROTC at ASU for four and a half years before she chose to disenroll.

As a result of her thesis publication, Camarena said the ROTC program implemented changes to better include female ROTC students.

“They’ve brought in female leaders within the military to speak to the females there, since there are very few women within the ROTC program,” said Camarena. The new addition gives students more insight as to what to expect as a female within the military and their leadership potential.

While pursuing her master’s in public administration, she worked two jobs and chose to continue her education through the summer as a full-time student.

A semester before graduating, Camarena found meaningful work at the local nonprofit Chicanos Por La Causa, which offers services to more than 200,000 individuals and families throughout Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico each year.

“They assist individuals in every capacity you could imagine, which is why I love it so much,” said Camarena. “My position is in housing, but we do everything from social work to helping with economic development.”

As she prepares to pursue her Ph.D., Camarena has become interested in researching the barriers and challenges facing women in STEM, in particular the experiences of Latinas in STEM.

“One thing I’ve noticed is there’s a lack with retention for women in STEM careers, and so I would like to pave that forward with future research,” said Camarena.