Hostos senior Elayne Blancas has never limited herself – and it’s likely she never will.

Blancas began stuElayne Blancas and Dr. Koffidying business at another college, but she quickly found that while she was interested in building and marketing her bold new ideas to share with the world, she also had a longing to study technology and engineering. In her words, she wanted to know: “How the world became what it is today and where it’s leading to?”

The energetic and precocious Bronx native changed her major to Electrical Engineering and then came to Hostos in 2017, where she flourished. She made the Dean’s List three times, became a Member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society in 2018, and most recently served as Vice President of the Engineering Club. Blancas has also donated countless hours volunteering through a social justice and outreach movement she started at age 21, #ItStartsWithYou, dedicated to feeding the homeless, singing to terminally ill patients, and
assisting natural disaster victims.

“I have always loved to create, and been fascinated with technology,” Blancas said. “I want to be a well-rounded scientist and inventor, so this was the perfect major for me.”

While she is set to graduate in May 2019, Blancas will participate in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) 2019 Summer Program in Biology and Neuroscience. The admission process was extremely competitive, and it was her drive and dedication to science and research that earned her a place working alongside some of the most brilliant teachers and students in the country. While there, she will conduct research in MIT laboratories, present her findings, and submit a research paper, as well as attend weekly academic seminars and meetings with faculty.

She is the first Hostos student to be selected for the MIT program, since fellow standout graduate Wendy FernándElayne Blancasez was selected in 2016. The 23-year-old Blancas, who is mature beyond her years, credits Hostos Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Moise Koffi, among others, with mentoring her during her engineering journey. The two have conducted various research projects together, and Blancas has served as a mentor for other students in the College’s Collegiate Science Technology Program (CSTEP) and the summer “Proyecto Access” Program that works with pre-college age students. The group she mentored won first place in the Senior Division of Technology category at the statewide STEP Students Conference in Albany, NY, and another group placed second in the Biological Sciences category.

"Elayne is one of those rare students who is full of energy and works tirelessly,” Dr. Koffi said. “Her intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm, and drive for engineering research is something I have rarely seen in my career."

One of Blancas’ more personal inspirations is her cousin, who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She spent much of her childhood designing special tools to improve his quality of life. She hopes to continue designing these devices for people with similar medical conditions.

As for her academic plans after Hostos, Blancas is waiting to hear from several prestigious colleges, including Princeton, Stanford, and Cornell universities, to continue her studies. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, she plans to pursue a J.D. in Intellectual Property.

Whatever the future holds, she is looking forward to the learning experience.

“Whether it be the ongoing improvements in technology we read about daily, the small changes in society adding up over time, or painstaking tests on potential cures for diseases, I admire the way we progress,” Blancas said. “It feels as if we are finding the missing pieces to this universe-sized puzzle of knowledge we, as humans, are constantly working on.”