Yareli Torres Rincon doesn’t consider herself an average 18-year-old still trying to get her life together. And for good reason. This 18-year-old has a pretty clear picture of how she wants her career to evolve and where she wants to end up, and for that she thanks Oregon MESA. As a third grader, Yareli was interested in robotics. “But,” she says, “at the time only boys were in robotics so it seemed like a longshot for me.” Longshot, meet Yareli. When she transferred to JW Poynter Middle School in Hillsboro, discovered the after-school MESA program and it was game on. Throughout middle school and her freshman year of high school, MESA provided a welcoming space for her to explore her robotics affinity, get cozy with the prototyping and invention process, and gain fluency in the open source electronics platform Arduino. “Then I moved to Forest Grove,” Yareli says. “They didn’t offer MESA and it was kind of a difficult thing for me.” But difficult things are kind of Yareli’s stock and trade. The determined young woman, a DACA student and the first of her generation to attend college, found herself up against a challenging project during an Invention Bootcamp recently and had an epiphany: maybe mechanical engineering wouldn’t be her career after all. “I like the process of prototyping, but I hated that I had to put it together and make it work,” she says. Since then she’s been investigating the field of patent law, meeting with a Portland intellectual property attorney to learn more about the job and making plans for law school after getting her undergraduate degree in engineering. Expect to see her at a law firm within the decade. In the meantime Yareli serves as an Oregon MESA mentor and helps other students explore what they want their focus to be.