Editor’s note: Linda Qian, Arizona communications manager for Intel, offered Wrangler News these two stories for Hispanic Heritage Month told by Intel West Chandler employees about their struggles to find an opening in the world of technology. One is an engineering program manager, the other a global account manager. Gloria Velazquez and Jose Ramirez were the first in their families to obtain a college degree, an achievement fueled by a fierce determination to overcome the odds. She was born and raised in El Paso. He grew up working in the fields in Yuma. Co-worker Jennifer Sanchez wrote these inspiring stories about their ambitious goals and their uphill challenge to attain them.
Gloria Velazquez as told to Jennifer Sanchez
Gloria Velazquez credits her parents with her determination to dream and go to college.
“It’s hard to say when I knew I wanted to be an engineer, but my family gave me the tools to make it happen,” Velazquez said. “My parents are from Mexico. My mother, a housewife, is from Jalisco and only attended first grade. My late father, a carpenter and construction worker, was from Chihuahua and went up to third grade. When my parents married, they emigrated to El Paso. Despite not having much formal education, my parents taught us skills to succeed in life.
“They could rarely help us with our homework, so I learned to be independent and find answers. They never let us miss school, so I learned discipline and responsibility. My family often made games of solving problems. My dad and I would sit on the porch for hours as we worked on the Rubik’s Cube. My uncle would always give us brain teasers. All of this forced me to develop creative ways to find solutions to win.
“My dad always encouraged us to study computers because most industries depend on technology. I went to the University of Texas at El Paso, and followed in my brothers’ footsteps. We both earned degrees in computer technology. I then earned my master’s in business administration.
“In 2010, I joined Intel in Arizona as a supply-chain analyst, a role where I was a software engineer developing applications for supply-chain decision making.
“Today, I’m happy to be a program manager, where I’m responsible for managing and coordinating the validation of internet of things (IOT) products in alignment with customers’ expectations and technical requirements. I make sure we stay competitive.”
Jose Ramirez as told to Jennifer Sanchez
Ramirez also acknowledges family as his inspiration.
“When I was a teenager in the 1980s, summers in our rural desert town were for hustling to make money,” Ramirez said. “That’s where I originally gained the skills that led me to be innovative and fearless — and have helped me contribute to Intel’s success for over 25 years.
“I was born and raised in Yuma County, Arizona, on the U.S.-Mexico border, the third of seven kids. My dad worked the citrus, lettuce and alfalfa fields, and mom managed our cozy three-bedroom house. I didn’t realize it then, but we were poor in material things, and rich in love, family and culture.
“I landed a job picking and packing lettuce – the best part was going inside the industrial coolers away from the heat. Once when my brother and I complained about the work, my dad shared his greatest wisdom: ‘If you don’t like this type of work, then go home and study, go to the university. Get better, get a degree and get out of this environment.’ We were sold!
“Our next hustle: get into and pay for Arizona State University as first-generation college students. With help from my older brother, I got in. (Six of us kids earned degrees from ASU and the youngest sibling graduated from Stanford University.)
“I studied engineering because I liked manufacturing. When it was time for an internship in 1992, I took some time off from school, got a nine-month gig at Intel and moved to Albuquerque. I used every minute to learn about the factory, machines and people and their roles. I returned to ASU and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering.
“In 1994, I joined Intel’s Fab 12 in Arizona startup team. We were in construction trailers and reviewing everything by print. Within a few years, I decided to go to graduate school at night to learn about our business, too. I later moved into the supply-chain organization and got the opportunity to understand our business model.
“Intel in the 2000s sponsored two of my master’s degrees: business administration and international business. By 2010, I joined Sales and Marketing Group’s Latin America regional team while based in Arizona. For over 10 years, I’ve flourished in SMG, and I’m loving my job as a global account manager.
“Navigating Intel has been my career hustle. I haven’t done it alone. I’m grateful for the support of ILN and several great managers, leaders and sponsors who have helped me contribute to our business. Above all, I’m most thankful to my dad for his advice that hot day.