Wentcher Blog scholar spotlight (1)

Alumni Spotlight: Ester Perez


An Albany Park native and Lincoln Park HS alumna, Ester Perez graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2020 with a degree in Chemical Engineering.

During her time at Rose-Hulman, Ester was very involved on campus. She was a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and Alphi Chi Sigma, a fraternity specializing in the fields of the chemical sciences. In her senior year, Ester took on a leadershiprole as the Vice President of SHPE.

Currently, Ester works in the corporate office of a petroleum refining company as a Data Validation Engineer. Prior to landing a full-time role, she interned with them during the summer of 2018 in the Environmental department, and the summer of 2019 in the Technical Service

In her role as a Chemical Engineer, Ester uses software such Petro-SIM and works closely with
kinetic and linear programming (LP) modelers to provide accurate yield data. From the
corporate office, Ester is focused on gathering and analyzing data, and maintaining data quality
for the refineries. Some of the work includes providing data for the kinetic and LP models,
troubleshooting mass balances, and developing visualization and analytical tools.

In terms of her immediate future, Ester says that she is hoping to move out of the corporate
office and into the refinery, where she would continue to work as a Chemical Engineer. She’d be
troubleshooting and optimizing the reactors, distillation towers, and other separating equipment.
Long term, Ester hopes to become a Technologist. As a Technologist, Ester would have
expertise on one refinery process and become the go-to person for troubleshooting and
optimizing said process. Ester says that most people in this role have twenty years of
experience or more working with their process, and are known as subject matter experts.

We asked Ester what it has been like to be a woman of color in STEM, and she told us that she
has faced moments where people have talked over her. Similarly, she has had experiences
where her male peers have tried to convince her she was wrong about something when she
knew she was right; which is why it is important to her to be knowledgeable on the topic and
know her facts. At the same time, she says that she has found inspiration in older female
engineers because she noticed their confidence when speaking and their extensive expertise.

In terms of advice for future female engineers or really any engineer, Ester says to be confident,
speak effectively, don’t doubt yourself, and stand your ground when being unfairly challenged.
Additionally, she advises not to stray away from taking on new projects, be open to learning and
receiving criticism, and last but not least, to ask questions! Ester emphasizes that it is always
better to ask questions rather than to pretend to know something.


The last question we asked Ester was what music keeps her motivated as a Chemical Engineer.
She told us because she works in Ohio where the diversity in population is vastly different from
Chicago, she likes to listen to regional Mexican music. It keeps her grounded and serves as a
reminder of her friends and family back home.

We at the Wentcher Foundation are inspired and so proud of Ester. We wish her all of the best
in her career endeavors as a Chemical Engineer and are excited to share her story as this
week’s spotlight!

Picture of Author: Nia Harris

Author: Nia Harris

Currently living in NYC, Nia Harris is a NYU graduate and Fulbright Scholar working for the Wentcher Foundation as the Program Associate. She writes for her own blog, Nashari which you can find here.

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