For Ayaka Clark, 23, math and science were subjects that always came easy to her. But as a graduating senior at California State University, Long Beach studying civil engineering, there have been times when she has questioned her career path and even considered changing her major.

But after being selected as one of the 200 students at the invitation-only 10th Annual Mathemathics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Student Leadership Conference recently in San Diego, her future career in engineering is now in focus.

“The conference was very motivating,” said Clark, who was one of the more than 70 students whose participation at the conference was sponsored by Edison International. “As a graduating senior, I appreciated all the advice and suggestions given. After the conference, I felt better prepared for upcoming interviews and for my future engineering career.”

Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison (SCE), was a sponsor at the “Future STEM Leaders, Powered by MESA” conference designed to assist STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students develop career strategies. The event provided networking and skill-building opportunities through workshops and also offered students an opportunity to interact with industry representatives and other student organizations from across California.

“I greatly appreciated what Edison and the other sponsor companies allowed us to experience,” said Clark. “The MESA conference taught me a lot about the leadership qualities that many companies are looking for. Hearing stories of success from MESA alumni was very interesting and it made me realize how conferences like these really have a big impact on students’ lives.”

Clark has been involved with MESA since attending a summer program for incoming freshmen. MESA promotes STEM success for more than 28,000 educationally disadvantaged high school and college students in California through project-based learning, academic counseling and exposure to STEM careers. Seventy percent of MESA high school graduates statewide go directly to college after graduation compared to 48 percent of all California graduates. Sixty percent of MESA students go on to math, science or engineering majors.

Edison International is a longtime supporter of MESA. In 2012, Edison International was named the MESA Champion for exemplary assistance in fulfilling MESA’s mission to help educationally disadvantaged students in California like Clark prepare for college and STEM careers.

“At Edison International, we realize that higher education is a transformative tool that fuels the future,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE director of Philanthropy and Community Investment. “As an energy company, we recognize the skills needed for our future workforce and to help advance our country. As a result, we focus our educational funding on preparing students to excel in STEM and to promote the inclusion of minority, low-income and underrepresented students in these academic fields.”

Tumbling and Yvette Gonzalez, SCE’s Education Investment program manager, presented the “Road Map to Leadership” workshop for students. SCE's HR employees, Angela Delgado and Freddie Rivera, conducted mock job interviews with students.

In addition to her studies at Cal State Long Beach, Clark has been interning 21 hours each week at SCE’s Transmission Engineering Department, a position she has held since 2009. She is currently assisting engineers on the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Line Project.

“I knew Edison International strongly recruited students for internships but I was not aware of its specific suport for STEM majors,” said Clark, who grew up in Chino Hills but now lives in Long Beach. “When I saw the extent of Edison International’s involvement at the conference, I was very proud to be an intern for the company.

“Many students from Northern California or from San Diego had never heard of Edison International before so it was also a great way to get the company’s name out there. Edison International’s involvement in things like the conferences and career fairs shows how much the company cares about its future potential employees.”

The students that Edison International sponsored attend the following schools: East Los Angeles College, El Camino College, California State University, Long Beach, California State University, Los Angeles, Pasadena City College, Rio Hondo College, Santa Ana College, Santa Barbara City College, University of Californa, Riverside, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.