NTO student heading for MIT

June 1, 2016
Odessa American

George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa senior Luis Trueba always wanted to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but never saw it as a likely possibility.

This fall, he’ll be heading to Cambridge to study mechanical engineering.

Trueba, 18, said he found out he was admitted to MIT in December 2015, having gained early admission.

“I guess I just kind of threw my application in there to see what would happen. It ended up turning out a lot better than I expected,” Trueba said.

But it wasn’t a question of just applying on a whim, because the application was more intensive than most, requiring at least a dozen short essays. Trueba said they were short, but it was still intensive, and there was an interview, which took place online.

According to the MIT website, selected admissions statistics for 2015 show applications for freshman admission were received from 18,306 candidates. Of those, admission was offered to 1,519 candidates (8 percent), of whom 1,109 enrolled, the site reported.

A majority had attended public high schools and 17 percent were among the first generation in their family to attend college. Nine percent were international citizens from 69 countries and all 50 states were represented, the site said.

Trueba, 18, didn’t get to visit the campus until about four months after he got in. He was expecting students completely dedicated to academics with no room for fun, but he said he learned otherwise.

“I went over there and the passion that I saw in the students over there was really overwhelming, I guess. Everyone there was just so dedicated to what they were studying and they were just super excited,” Trueba said. A private university, MIT had a little more than 4,500 undergraduate students and about 6,800 graduate students in 2015-16, the MIT registrar’s office reported.

Trueba is the son of Luis Jr. and Adriana Trueba. His sister, Ana, is a junior at NTO.

Trueba said he has lived most of his life in Texas. Although he sometimes jokes that he won’t, Trueba said he was going to miss Odessa and his friends and family.

“Moving to the Northeast is definitely going to be a change,” he said. “There’s going to be cold winters, mild summers but it’s really going to be a good opportunity to learn a lot and I’m really looking forward to being able to take advantage of that in the coming years.”

Trueba said the next logical step after MIT would be to attend graduate school. Eventually, he said he would like to design space probes for NASA.

To help him through school, Trueba has been awarded about $52,000 a year from the MIT Scholarship Fund. He said the average cost is a little more than $62,000 a year, so the scholarship gets him “most of the way there.”

Trueba said he will have to do work-study, take out federal loans and work a summer job.

“I’m going to be working hard to get my portion of the financial contribution done,” he said.

Having applied to a total of eight schools, Trueba said he had some “reach” universities, “plausible” schools and “safety” schools. He said he was admitted to all of them, including Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but the random number of generators were in my favor this time,” Trueba said. “I hadn’t even thought it was a possibility. I applied expecting six at the most. I honestly didn’t think I would get into all of them.”

As for graduation coming up at 2 p.m. Friday at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, Trueba said it’s been a busy year for him. On one hand, he said he’s glad it’s over, but on the other hand the end means becoming an adult.

This past year, Trueba and some of his peers helped mentor the robotics team at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin STEM Academy and he was captain of New Tech’s robotics team. He said he hopes to join the MIT robotics team and continue mentoring high school students.

“It was absolutely phenomenal,” Trueba said of his experience with the UTPB robotics team. “I learned so much from those kids. I honestly didn’t really expect to be learning from them. I expected to be teaching them, but they really blew my expectations out of the water. I learned a lot about working with teams and how competition can really bring people together.”

New Tech Dean of Students Gerardo Ramirez said having a student admitted to MIT is not something that’s heard of a lot in the Odessa area and people at New Tech are looking forward to hearing reports of how Trueba is doing.

“It’s been awesome and great that it’s one of our learners here at New Tech Odessa,” Ramirez said. “I know that that was the first choice for Luis Trueba and I know that he’s very excited. His family is very excited, NTO is very excited for him getting into MIT.”