By Lena Bae
Miguel Medrano, a 2012 alum of the MIT Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Community (MOSTEC), was named one of “the 25 most impressive kids graduating from high school this year” by Business Insider earlier this year. In September, he began his freshman year at MIT, where he plans to study electrical engineering and computer science.
In his hometown of Fabens, Texas, Miguel is known for his remarkable math skills. As a high school junior in 2012, he placed first for calculator applications in the University Interscholastic League (UIL) State Academic Meet, a prestigious competition for top Texas high school students. In his senior year, Miguel placed fourth in calculator applications. This May, the El Paso Times highlighted his prodigious performance in the competition. Miguel has medaled 37 times in UIL math and science academic events.
Miguel began competing on the math team as a freshman, but he says his interest in math developed in the eighth grade. “I wasn’t really that good at it,” Miguel says. “And then in my eighth grade year, a new teacher came into our school. I liked his teaching style a lot.”
It didn’t take long for Miguel’s talent to shine. Manuel Cobos, the academic coach at Fabens High School, spoke with the El Paso Times this May. “In the 13 years that I’ve been teaching, he’s one of the best that I’ve seen,” Cobos said. “I first had him as a freshman in the AP Geometry class, and right away I could tell he was talented. He has a lot of heart and dedication, and his work ethic is fabulous.”
Miguel faced a challenging learning curve in applying his natural math abilities to a competitive setting. “In the beginning it was hard because I started as a newbie, and I didn’t have previous experience in contests,” he says. “My motivation was to keep going up in each invitation, keep moving up the rankings.”
After a number of impressive finishes in competitions, Miguel set his sights on MIT. Miguel first experienced the Institute as a MOSTEC participant in 2012. In the online program, Miguel worked alongside other top high school students from across the country. From July to August, they completed online coursework and projects in science, engineering, and technical writing. From August to January, they interacted with MIT faculty and staff and received online mentorship. Miguel and his peers attended a conference at MIT during the summer, where they interacted with MIT students and faculty in person.
Miguel cited MOSTEC – and particularly the MOSTEC Conference – as a significant factor in his decision to apply to MIT. “Coming here, like Louis [Fouché, MOSTEC program coordinator, said,] we put a face to a name,” he says.
This past summer, Miguel participated in Interphase EDGE, an enrichment program provided by the MIT Office of Minority Education that helps rising freshmen transition to college life. A number of Miguel’s MOSTEC peers also took part in Interphase.
Miguel also cited his cousin, a junior at MIT, as a motivation to matriculate to MIT. Like his cousin, Miguel plans to major in electrical engineering and computer science.
While he is unsure of his next steps after graduation, Miguel is aware that his outlook will change as he continues learning and working. “Right now the goal is just to finish undergrad,” Miguel said. “By the time my senior year comes, I’ll make a choice as to whether I want to go into graduate school.”