Gabriela Rojas was selected as the 2019 Alumnae of the Year by Girls Inc. of San Diego County because she embodied the mission of the organization by advocating for girls and encouraging them to pursue their own goals and ambitions.
Gabriela joined Girls Inc. of San Diego County (GISD) in her sophomore year, the same year GISD started the Google Made with Code Program. Gabriela was attracted to the idea of being part of a girls-only computer program after-school class and decided to join and recruit other girls to be part of it.
Gabriela recognizes the value of supporting her community and sees technology as a tool for solving many of the problems facing society. She participated in her school’s Robotics Team and was the only Latina participant. She recognizes that women of color are significantly underrepresented in fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and wants to serve as a role model to other young girls to show them that women of color can thrive in this career path.
She applied to the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards 2018 and won all three categories – bronze (local), silver (regional) and gold (national) awards in the Innovation and Technology Category. This award opened the doors to many opportunities she can pursue to be able to represent women of color.
During high school, Gabriela participated in other Girls Inc. programs such as College Bound, Job Ready! and Mind + Body. These programs sparked her interest in other areas, such as community service, technology and even making healthier choices for herself.
Both of Gabriela’s parents live with Diabetes. After participating in Mind + Body, Gabriela created the Veggie Society at her school. She shared the tools and knowledge from Mind + Body to raise awareness around healthy eating and veganism with other students.
Over the years, Gabriella recruited her friends to participate in GISD programs and become empowered and informed. Her leadership skills grew tremendously. She became more confident about her identity and background.
One of the biggest struggles Gabriela faced was having to go back and forth across the US-Mexican border every week to see her family in Tijuana, Mexico. This experience made Gabriela realize that she had an opportunity in the United States that she could not take for granted. Many of her relatives in Mexico either dropped out of middle school or did not pursue education after middle school.
In Fall 2019, Gabriela started studies at the California State University-San Marcos pursuing a degree in Computer Science. She made her voice heard at the 2018 Women’s March San Diego and is now ready to have her voice heard by peers and colleagues in the field of STEM as a strong, smart and bold woman.