The Mentor Spotlight series by Project YETI aims to showcase the amazing young Tibetans involved in our YETI Mentorship program and share some of their valuable advice publicly for young Tibetan students. We'll be posting a new Mentor Spotlight every day, so stay tuned!
Sonam Choera is an engineering consultant for Arup in Los Angeles, focusing primarily on the design of large infrastructure projects. He is passionate about the built environment specifically the intersection of economics, infrastructure, and sustainability. He also volunteers as a pro-bono consultant providing strategy services for environmental non-profits throughout L.A. Sonam is a first-generation Tibetan-American and graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Creative, compassionate, [and] hard working.
What is a fun fact about you most people don't know?
I am left handed but golf right handed.
What is your favorite quote?
"Stay foolish. Stay hungry." This simple quote is about how it's okay to not have all the answers and look foolish at times. The more important thing is to stay hungry and remain consistent in your drive towards your ambitions. Also I have a lot of respect for Steve Jobs and his commencement speech from 2005.
What motivates you to be successful/achieve?
I am not motivated specifically by any one thing to be successful. I think a lot of elements help me achieve my goals. For example, competition is a big part of it, but so is wanting to be unique, making my family proud, setting a good example for future generations, and trying to improve things I see wrong with the world.
If you could offer one piece of advice to Tibetan students in their college application process, what would it be?
Speak about being Tibetan, our story, and upbringing. It’s a very unique element that many other students will not have and will definitely make you stand out. Visit the universities you apply for and do lots of research, you will be spending the next four years there. Also attending college tours and informational seminars will give you an edge in your application because it shows that you put in effort on your part. Junior college and community colleges can be a smart decision as well so if your grades are not very strong, you can spend two years there and transfer to a four year university and still get very good careers.
If you could offer one piece of advice to Tibetan students entering the college experience, what would it be?
Get outside your comfort zone. College is your introduction to the wider world, you have so many people around you from all over the world with very diverse background. Be confident in yourself and try to learn as much as you can. Push your boundaries, challenge your views, defend your opinions, and build relationships. But also keep your grades up and resume in strong shape, you still need a job when you graduate.