Sponsored Student Spotlight 


Name: Sergio Eduardo Godínez Hernández

Year in Program: 2018 - 2020

Country: Mexico

Home institution:

Sponsoring Agency: COMEXUS Becas Fulbright-García Robles

Field of Study: Engineering                         

Majors and Minors: MS in Structural Engineering

Research projects: -


1. Why did you decide to study in the U.S.? What made you choose to come to San Diego?

I have always wanted to study in the United States because of the high academic level of the educational institutions and because of the research done in the country. The strong structural engineering program, focused on earthquake engineering, the labs of UC San Diego and the fact that it is such a beautiful city made me choose to come to San Diego.


2. How did you become interested in UC San Diego and your program? What do you hope to gain out of your experience here, academically and personally?

I looked for all the universities where they offered a civil engineering program with a focus on earthquake engineering. I found UC San Diego, looked at all the faculty and the kind of research they are working on, the labs and resources they have, and didn’t hesitate in applying.

Academically, knowledge and discipline. I also expect to meet great people overall, academically and personally.


3. What challenges/difficulties did you meet while preparing your stay in the U.S. or adapting to your new setting in San Diego? How did you overcome them?

At least for me it wasn’t that difficult to adapt to San Diego, the city is amazing, the weather is excellent, and there are a lot of things to do.


4. How do you find the academic climate at UC San Diego and within your program? Describe any highlights and/or challenges.

It was difficult to return to classes after not attending to school for a while, so returning to studying and doing homework was a little bit complicated. Once the rust goes off there wasn’t a problem (only the difficulty of the classes and assignments of course). The academic and time demand is high, but everyone is very open to solve doubts and help each other out with any problem.


5. Do you participate in research? If so, describe your project/lab. Why did you become interested in this topic?

I haven’t started working on research yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been talking with a professor and a PhD student about working with them, but I don’t have a topic yet.

The structural engineering department has plenty of labs, UCSD owns the largest outdoor shaking table in the world (I highly recommend looking for the kinds of experiments done in that table).


6. What extracurricular activities do you participate in? Are you a member of any student organizations?  What is the best experience you’ve had so far? How do you spend your free time in San Diego? 

Being a graduate student makes it complicated to have a lot of free time, but I think it is important to have a balance. I enjoy going to the gym, swimming in the UCSD pool and going out on runs. I like going to the beach whenever I can, La Jolla Cove is a great place to hang out, get a nice cup of coffee and see the sea lions. I did snorkeling in La Jolla Cove, it is amazing. I haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of different things yet, but I would love to learn to surf (there are quite a few spots to go surfing), go hiking, kayaking.

I’m not a member of any student organization, but I try to take advantage of the social events that the GSA and UCSD do.


7. What was a defining moment in your academic career that shaped who you are now?

It is hard to choose only one moment, I think everyone’s career gets shaped throughout a long period of time. Studying abroad may have been one of the most defining moments, I did an ERAMUS exchange in Marseille, France during my undergrad, I learnt a lot academically and personally while studying and living outside my home country. Working on my thesis for my bachelor’s degree was also a big defining moment for me, that was when I realized I still have (and will always have) a lot to learn.


8. What have you accomplished during your studies at UC San Diego that you are most proud of? How has this impacted you?

I have been in UC San Diego for a small period, but I am eager to learn and accomplish improvements in the field. The sole fact that I get to study in UC San Diego makes me proud and motivates me to do my best.


9. How will your experience here in San Diego fit in your educational/professional plan/future career?

I know that I will make the best out of my time here, and that the knowledge and things I obtain from my experience will help me in any direction I choose to take. Getting to know new people, learning from faculty, using all the resources the University has, and getting to know myself in a different environment will help me grow academically, professionally and personally.

I don’t know yet what direction to take after my MS program, but I’m sure that I will have the necessary resources to do anything after my time here, UC San Diego is a great university.


10. What is one thing you would tell aspiring sponsored students?

Studying and working hard is a must, before beginning your program and specially during it, but hard work always pays off. I would advise aspiring sponsored students that always remember that you are representing your country, and to use that as a special motivation rather than taking it as pressure.