By Helen Widman
Beaming in front of a royal blue curtain on the Zoom call, one can’t help but think of a magician when speaking with CGIF scholarship recipient Devon Woodfine. A quick glance upon his impressive email signature implies that he really is a magician, or perhaps Woodfine has simply mastered the art of being the hardest worker in the room. Let’s go with the latter.
Born and raised in South Los Angeles — or South Central — Woodfine grew up in a single-parent household with an emphasis on the importance of education.
“Ever since I was a kid, education has always been a big push in my family to obtain and I’ve always had an interest in STEM,” Woodfine says. “I’m big into manga and comics, so my favorite characters in those are usually the scientist or gadget guy, so I knew I was gonna get into engineering or something or like computer science.”
Woodfine is a rising junior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he studies mechanical engineering. Last fall, Woodfine received $5,000 through the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) on behalf of the CGIF and ACerS.
In 2019, Woodfine assumed the head of his household and now serves as the primary caregiver for his mother, who became chronically ill when Woodfine was still in high school. Woodfine says that this scholarship allowed him to pay off most of his tuition for this year.
“I’m truly grateful that the (CGIF) selected me as the winner this year,” Woodfine says.
In the future, Woodfine aspires to attend graduate school, earn his Ph.D., and create his own start up company, but he also considers delving right into the engineering industry.
“I’m thinking of doing product design for maybe a fan corporation in Silicon Valley, but I’m also open to working in the biomedical space,” Woodfine says.
Woodfine recognizes that materials science can play a crucial role in protecting the environment from harmful substances.
“From plastics to biodegradable materials used for the consumer market, medical devices (are) made from biocompatible tissue,” Woodfine says. “And weather resistant batteries for electric vehicles are all problems materials science will solve in the upcoming years that will revolutionize how we imagine life.”
Last year, Woodfine served as a pilot manufacturing intern at Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine and this summer he works as a process informatics intern at Pfizer. He is also the Vice President of NSBE at Cal Poly Pomona. While the list of achievements goes on for Woodfine, family is still at the forefront of his life.
“You can’t just give up, because there’s somebody depending on you,” Woodfine says. “My mom was in that situation with me where I’m probably sure there were days that she didn’t want to go forward but she had to do it because she had a son to take care of so it’s like — it’s paying it forward.”