Hometown: Santa Cruz, Bolivia & Boise, Idaho
Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve been struck by lightning. When living in rural Paraguay while serving with the Peace Corps, my house had a metal roof and was in the middle of a big, open field. Lightning struck my house right at the moment that I went in to plug in my phone charger—no major damage was done, thankfully!
Undergraduate School and Major: Stanford University, Human Biology
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Community Health Volunteer with the Peace Corps; Recently interned as a Product Manager at Fortive.
What did your parents do for a living? My mother is a nurse’s assistant at a family clinic in Idaho and my father was a technician, but now works as an operations manager at the University of Oregon’s astronomy observatory.
What was the highest level of education achieved by your mother and your father? Mother—high school; Stepfather—Associates Degree
Which family member or mentor is your biggest inspiration or role model? Why? I’m thankful to have a mother who has unconditionally supported my wildest aspirations. She has the ability to see the potential in others, as well as in herself. She immigrated to the United States as a single mother with two small daughters (my sister 4 years old and me at 7 years old), with the intention of giving our family the resources to work beyond our previous living conditions. She’s made sacrifices I’ll never fully grasp—and I’m thankful to have someone in my life whose love and resilience gives me the drive to work hard each day.
What was the moment that led you to decide to pursue higher education? One of the main reasons why my mother moved us to the United States was for my sister and I to pursue higher education, something we couldn’t have attained with as much ease had we stayed in Bolivia. Therefore, it was always an expectation that, no matter what, we would be getting a college degree. I remember having long conversations with my mother about the barriers—particularly the cost. So, the plan was to either join the military or go to a community college, unless I received some form of scholarship to go to a 4-year school.
I began researching scholarships and financial aid during my sophomore year of high school to make college a reality. Specifically, when I learned about the Gates Millennium Scholarship – which covered all four years of college – I spent months perfecting my application to ultimately become a recipient and attend Stanford without having to go elsewhere due to the financial barrier.
What was your biggest worry before going for your undergraduate degree? I attended a predominantly white high school in Idaho, so when I was admitted to Stanford, I received a number of comments about affirmative action and how that may have played a role in my admittance. I often heard comments that implied I was solely admitted due to my international background and not for my hard work. This led to imposter syndrome before I even stepped foot on Stanford’s campus. However, after my first quarter, I realized that beyond being able to handle the course load, I also found a brilliant, supportive community that helped me find my voice and hone leadership skills that would serve me whenever thoughts of “imposter syndrome” creeped up again.
What was the most challenging part of getting your undergraduate degree? The most challenging part of getting my undergraduate degree was trying to imagine work and life after college–I had worked so hard to get into school and to pay for it, that I had given minimal thought to what I actually wanted to do afterwards. Therefore, the challenge came down to figuring out what I wanted to do long term after college, in order to choose the right major and internships.
What didn’t your family understand about the higher-ed experience that you wish they would understand better? I wish they understood how much their unconditional support did for me—knowing that, even if I failed at something, I had a strong, loving family to fall back on meant the world to me.
What led you to pursue an MBA degree? Not long after starting my first job after undergrad, I realized that an MBA would help me achieve the career goals I had set out for myself. Having majored in Human Biology at Stanford, I was learning everything in my new operations analyst job at DaVita for the first time. Although there was a lot I could learn on the job, there were certain leadership skills, business insights, and “instincts” that my mentors had and I didn’t. As it turns out, something they all had in common was that they all had their MBAs. I was fortunate to have their mentorship and guidance to help me decide what graduate program would be best for me.
How did you choose your MBA program? Kellogg had caught my eye early on because I had met so many great co-workers who were alumni of the program. They all had a great way of balancing the interpersonal relationship and emotional intelligence part of a job with the technical and analytical side, something I sought to achieve in my own leadership style. When I looked into the MBA program at Kellogg, I appreciated the group-work emphasis – something that would let me collaborate with diverse groups of people, learn from others’ strengths and allow me to build relationships I may not otherwise had the opportunity develop. In addition, I was drawn to the vast array of experiential courses and clubs offered at Kellogg. Something I’ve been most proud of since beginning school has been my involvement with the Hispanic Management Community, where I serve as VP of Prospective students, helping Hispanic prospective students make right decision about pursuing their MBAs.
What was your biggest worry before starting your MBA? My biggest worry before starting Kellogg was the thought of having to balance extracurriculars, recruiting, academics and family life. After undergrad, I had gotten into a comfortable routine of hobbies, family, and work. But I had been told that the MBA schedule is much less predictable, and sometimes difficult to manage.
Although it is true that there is a lot to balance during graduate school, I found that the Kellogg community was spectacularly inclusive to partners, spouses, and families, which made the family-school balance much easier for my husband and me. Families are invited and encouraged to participate in all events and opportunities, such as leading clubs and auditing classes, and they are always invited to social events. In particular, my husband has found his community through section events and from joining me on KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Exploration Student Trips) last year. At this point, he attends equal if not more social events than I do! It’s great to have him be a part of the Kellogg community.
How were you able to finance your MBA as a first-generation student? I was fortunate enough to receive the Kellogg Diversity Scholarship, which covers the majority of fees associated with business school.
What advice would you have for other first-generation college students? Be proud of your story and where you come from. You are that much more resilient, strong, and courageous for making it to and through college, when it is such an uncharted territory for you and your family. These qualities will serve you more than you know.
What do you plan to pursue after graduation? After graduation, I hope to pursue a job in general management within the healthcare space. I hope to apply and leverage the analytical and leadership skills I have gained at Kellogg to mentor others and build strong teams.