She came to Iowa State for the weather

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Before coming to Iowa State University, California-born Antoinette Serrato had never experienced a true snowfall or the sharp Iowa chill. Her first semester, her friend’s mother offered to take Serrato shopping for a winter coat during Thanksgiving break. Now entering her senior year, Serrato has discovered her passion for weather, and pursues that passion with meteorology.

As a woman pursuing a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math), Serrato (meteorology, ’17) has embraced the many opportunities Iowa State offers for students in STEM. She has been involved with the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Learning Community since her freshman year. After being inspired by her WiSE peer mentor as an underclassman, she had the opportunity to mentor 30 women throughout her junior year. As a peer mentor, Serrato hosted events and had monthly meetings with each girl.

“It made me feel like I was giving back to the Iowa State community,” Serrato said.

In addition to being a peer mentor, she also was the secretary and LAS representative for Physics and Astronomy Club, which led to her current position as LAS Student Council president.

“I have social anxiety so at my first meeting I was terrified as people looked at me expectantly. I have developed as a leader through this because I figured out how to not be so nervous and hone in on my speaking skills,” Serrato said.

As president, Serrato learned how to take initiative. She also learned that even though she’s the president, it’s still a team effort. Serrato realized working with other students on the council to make sure they have a say was vital.

She will begin her second term as president this fall.

Two of Serrato’s favorite things about ISU are enjoying all four seasons with “nice Midwesterners.” Although ISU is a larger university, she said it was exciting “finding my own little science geek friend group.”

She has grown while at Iowa State, but not only because of her own work. David Flory, a senior lecturer in Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, was Serrato’s first adviser. He helped her schedule orientation classes and taught a majority of her meteorology classes. He has known her goals from the very start and Serrato appreciates how straightforward he is while encouraging her to strive harder.

She has looked to other leadership in LAS for encouragement, too.

“Dean [Beate] Schmittmann is a woman in the field of physics, and I think that where she is now is inspiration all on its own. William Gutowski [a professor of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences and an Associate Dean in LAS] has been an inspiration, too. They’ve both been extremely supportive of me and have helped me through any weaknesses I’ve encountered,” Serrato said.

Working at NASA’s jet propulsion lab in California is Serrato’s dream, and she has already taken steps toward this goal by attending NASA open houses and connecting with her physics professors for research experience.

“I want to work for NASA because they’ve always been about innovation, exploration and discovery. I want to work for a company whose goals are embedded with those three things because I feel like the more we can advance scientifically, the more we’ll learn,” Serrato said.