Why Inver? Essay Scholarship Contest

Tatem Rios
Tatem Rios

Tatem Rios awarded up to $3,000 toward fall semester 2018 tuition

Tatem Rios, 18, a former PSEO student and new engineering and chemistry major at Inver Hills Community College, submitted the top essay in the Why Inver? Essay Scholarship Contest. Tatem shared her story about why Inver Hills is the right next step in her educational journey.

Tatem’s 1,000-word essay was declared the winner by a scholarship review committee and she has been awarded up to $3,000 to cover the full cost of her tuition for fall semester 2018. Four other finalists will receive $500 scholarships.

“When this scholarship opportunity arose, I knew I had to share my story,” Tatem said. “I feel honored and ecstatic for receiving this award. I am truly thankful.”

More about Tatem…

Originally from Mounds View, Minnesota, Tatem Rios is a graduate of East Ridge High School, Class of 2018. Tatem is double-majoring at Inver Hills, earning her Associate of Science (A.S.) in Chemistry and A.S. in Engineering Fundamentals. She belongs to Phi Theta Kappa, Engineering Club and Math Club. She also works as a peer tutor at the college.

Tiny Whoov
Tiny Whoov

“In Engineering Club this past spring, a group of students and I worked in collaboration to build mini hover crafts called Tiny Whoovs,” Tatem reported. “Individually, we designed our own Tiny Whoovs using a CAD (computer-aided design) program. Once we finished our designs, we 3D-printed them and added the rest of the components. The components included motors, propellers, a battery and a FPV flight controller.”

Tatem added that her favorite part of the project was designing the Tiny Whoov using Fusion 360.

“I had never used a CAD program before this project so it was a bit of a challenge, but I loved it,” she said. “I learned an incredible amount working on this project.
(See left for Tatem’s finished product.)

Three words that describe you as a college student:


After graduating from Inver in spring 2019, Tatem is transferring to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, to pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Her long-range career plan is to find a job in the research and development field as a chemical engineer.

“I like how chemical engineers have the opportunity to develop and design chemical manufacturing processes and solve various problems,” she said.

When she’s not studying, Tatem enjoys running, biking and rock climbing. She loves doing anything outside. Tatem resides in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Tatem Rios | Why Inver? essay

It was the end of my sophomore year of high school when I visited campus for the first time. I was looking for a school to attend for PSEO and I knew right away that Inver Hills was going to be the one. The campus was small, yet beautiful, very easy to navigate and it had great amenities. For the next two years of high school, I would call Inver Hills my home.

Now that I am done with PSEO, I plan to attend for another year. This essay could easily be written about how I chose Inver Hills because of the cheap tuition, small classes and flexible scheduling. While this may be part of the reason, the real reason I chose to continue my education at Inver Hills is the diversity, student life, and faculty.

Growing up as a Hispanic female, I always felt that it was hard to fit in with the crowd. At fourteen, I moved away from my hometown and attended a high school that was predominantly white. I was never fully accepted by my peers; feeling like an outcast. This feeling changed at Inver, for once in my life I felt accepted and appreciated at school.

The diversity on this campus has been eye opening and I have met some truly amazing people with different backgrounds. As crazy as it may sound, I actually get excited to attend school every day. Making friends has been incredibly easy since everyone is so accepting. Never in my life have I had an experience like this at any other school I have attended.

Growing up as a Hispanic female, I always felt that it was hard to fit in with the crowd. At fourteen, I moved away from my hometown and attended a high school that was predominantly white. I was never fully accepted by my peers; feeling like an outcast. This feeling changed at Inver, for once in my life I felt accepted and appreciated at school.

Tatem Rios, Inver Hills Engineering Student

The student life on campus is wonderful because there are many clubs that students can attend and get involved in. The club that I am most frequently involved with is engineering club. We often have guest speakers, which include college representatives and engineers. This is very helpful for prospective students to learn about the schools they can transfer to as well as what engineers in the workforce are doing. In the club, we also work on various projects that are driven by the interests of the students.

Most recently a group of students and I worked on a project designing, 3D printing, and building mini hovercrafts. This allowed for group collaboration and a fun learning experience. The clubs on campus are amazing small communities which are always welcoming new members. I have benefited from getting involved and would recommend it to any students who might be debating it. It can make the greatest difference.

Throughout my education at Inver, I have found the faculty to be phenomenal. All of my professors have been great and they are always willing to help when needed. My engineering professor, Joan Carter, has pushed me to become a better version of myself. She has encouraged me and believed in me, which has allowed me to persevere in all the work that I do. Because of her, I know that I want to pursue a degree in engineering, which has not always been the case.

Another person I would like to give recognition to is the math tutor, Quynh Nguyen. She has helped me excel in my mathematics courses and because of her, I will be starting a job as a peer tutor so I can help other students succeed. These people have helped me exceed what I had thought I was capable of and I would not be where I am today without them.

Overall, my experience here has been amazing and I am ecstatic to continue my education on this campus. This school has allowed me to grow tremendously as a person because of the confidence I have gained as well as the substantial amount of support I have received from my peers and professors.

My recommendation to anyone who is considering attending Inver Hills is to do it! The education is personal, unlike a university and it is very easy to get involved on campus and meet new people. You will also save a considerable amount of money getting classes done at a fraction of the cost, and who does not want to save on college tuition?

Tatem Rios • 11 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Running
  2. tatum_1Place you would most like to visit: I would love to visit Hawaii.
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Ran a half-marathon.
  4. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Life is what you make it.”
  5. Favorite all-time TV show: Riverdale
  6. Favorite all-time movie: Dream Big: Engineering Our World
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Run a full marathon.
  8. tatum_2Dream occupation: Chemical engineer
  9. Person you would most like to meet: Elon Musk
  10. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Computer programming
  11. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Global warming

More about Engineering at Inver Hills…

The Engineering department at Inver Hills stands out as a wise starting point if you are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in civil, electrical or mechanical engineering at the following universities:

Degree option

Associate of Science (A.S.) in Engineering Fundamentals — 60 credits

By earning your A.S. in Engineering Fundamentals at Inver Hills, you will be prepared for transfer to a four-year college or university to complete your bachelor’s degree. Your two-year foundation will allow you to select your specialization from a wide range of engineering branches.

The program covers courses typically offered in freshman and sophomore years of an accredited engineering curriculum in the United States. As an Inver engineering student, you should stay informed regarding the rules and requirements of the engineering department at the four-year college or university where you plan to transfer.

Visit Engineering to learn more.

More about Chemistry at Inver Hills…

The Chemistry department at Inver Hills offers specialized and general courses—all with laboratory—that meet the requirements for two-year and four-year degrees in the physical and life sciences, including nursing.

If you have plans to major in chemistry, you should consider pursuing either an A.S. in Chemistry or an A.A. with an Emphasis in Chemistry. You should consult with an Inver Hills academic advisor or counselor when planning your academic career.

Degree option

Chemistry Transfer Pathway Associate of Science (A.S.) – 60 credits

The Chemistry Transfer Pathway A.S. offers you a powerful option: the opportunity to complete an Associate of Science degree with course credits that directly transfer to designated chemistry bachelor’s degree programs at Minnesota State universities. The entire curriculum has been carefully designed to guarantee junior-year status to students who have been admitted to one of the seven Minnesota State universities,* where you can complete your bachelor’s degree by earning 60 additional credits.

Universities within the Minnesota State system include:

  • Bemidji State University
  • Metropolitan State University
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Minnesota State University, Moorhead
  • Southwest Minnesota State University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • Winona State University
Visit Chemistry to learn more.
To learn more about the Why Inver? Essay Scholarship Contest, contact:

Amanda Fischer
Admissions Advisor

To learn more about Engineering Fundamentals at Inver Hills, contact:

Joan Carter, PE (MN, IA, CA)
Engineering Faculty

To learn more about Chemistry at Inver Hills, contact:

Adam Prowatzke
Chemistry Faculty

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