Mentorship Highlight: Diana and Trisha

One of the most impactful aspects of San Diego Squared is our yearlong mentorship program, where we pair a high school student from an underrepresented community who’s interested in STEM with a STEM professional to help them grow both academically and personally.


Today, we’re diving into Diana and Trisha’s story of mentorship, community, and finding friends over common passions.

Although she was nervous to meet her new mentor, Diana Garcia, a 17-year-old freshman at UCLA, waited patiently for Trisha Millican, the CFO of Architect Therapeutics, to arrive at their first meeting as mentor-mentees. Quickly into that first conversation, the two bonded over their shared interests and created a welcoming environment for both of them to grow together over the next year- complete with local Mexican cuisine, unforgettable outings, and conversations about their shared experiences.


From that very first meeting, their friendship blossomed, with Trisha providing valuable resources and experiences to Diana. They’ve gone on leisurely walks, rented a bike to explore Coronado Island, and shared meals at local restaurants, all with the overarching purpose of supporting Diana and her journey in STEM.


A typical meeting for the pair usually included meeting somewhere convenient for Diana, a walk or activity, and a meal. They often spent several hours together, with Diana leading the conversation to work on specific topics she was prepared to learn about and wanted guidance on. From helping her with the FAFSA to introducing Diana to other STEM professionals in her network, Trisha has opened plenty of doors for Diana and supports her in all of the different avenues she explores.


Over the year they spent together, Trisha showed Diana how to weave her passions for both biology and business together.


“Having been matched with her was such a blessing, given her role as the CFO of a biotech company,” Diana said, “She served as the perfect embodiment of how I could merge my two career aspirations.”


One of Diana’s highlights of their time together was the day she went to Big Bear with Trisha and two of her daughters. It was Diana’s first time in the snow, describing the experience as “unforgettable.” They went down the icy slide together after Diana quelled Trisha’s hesitations, flipping the script on their usual relationship, and leaving Diana with lasting memories full of laughter.


Throughout her time as a Fellow with SD2, Diana has gained a community for both herself and her entire family. Her sister has completed multiple internships with biotech companies through SD2, her family has received direct support through the grocery stipends provided to Fellows, and Diana herself has interned with SD2 and continues to be active within the SD2 community. She explained that her time with SD2 transcended her individual experience, helping to shape the trajectory of her entire family.


From her mentee, Trisha was reminded of the importance of humility.


“Diana is a spiritual person and it was clear to me that her faith is what anchored her positivity in life in spite of all of the challenges she has confronted,” Trisha said, “She reminded me how important our spiritual faith is in maintaining in the right frame of mind when difficulties arise and that a humble spirit lends to a different perspective in life.”


At the end of their formal yearlong mentorship, Trisha hoped to leave Diana with the power to never give up on her aspirations- and so far, she’s been successful. Diana is between choosing a career on the business side of the biotech industry and becoming an obstetrician, but whichever path she chooses, she’s passionate about giving back and serving as an example for future generations.


“Trisha has played a pivotal role in some of the most memorable chapters of my life, marking significant milestones that I cherish deeply,” Diana said, “From the enchanting experience of touching snow for the first time to orchestrating my first professional informative interview and standing by me at my high school graduation, her presence has been a guiding force. As I reflect on these shared moments, I express my gratitude and pray that our journey together continues, witnessing each other’s growth and accomplishments.”


Interested in learning more about SD2 to further your potential in STEM? Check out the Squared Fellows program here.


Want to become a mentor like Trisha? Learn more here.