Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: The Journey to Becoming an Engineer
Karla Bracamonte, a Mexican immigrant, worked as a custodian at Arizona State University. One day, she walked past a whiteboard with unfinished algebraic equations written on it.
“I turned to my coworker at the time and I told them, ‘I can do this,’” Bracamonte said.
Realizing her talent, a professor and her coworkers encouraged her to apply for classes at ASU, where university staff could get discounts on tuition. However, as a first-generation college student with very little understanding of English, she had barriers to overcome.
“I went to student services and I learned how to say, ‘What do I need to study here?’” Bracamonte said. “I had to buy a little recorder and record their answers. Then I would go to the library to translate it.”
It wasn’t easy, but Bracamonte went on to get her bachelor’s degree in computer science. Being a working mother at the time added another layer of difficulty.
“For most people, they go to school, then they get married, then they have kids,” Bracamonte said. “I did it all backwards. First, I had kids. Then I went to school. When I was in my sophomore year, I found out I was pregnant with my third kid. But I told myself, ‘Okay, let’s still do this.’ So, I delivered my son on a Friday, and I took a quiz the following Monday.”
Today, Bracamonte is a software engineer at Intel working on products for the medical, retail, and education fields. She puts the stamp of approval on code before it goes out into the world, ensuring Intel releases original work. Bracamonte has been at Intel for 13 years, and it’s no mistake she’s been at the company for so long. She’s always been encouraged to stay curious and keep growing. Intel even paid for her to get her master’s degree.
“It’s a very good place to work,” Bracamonte said. “I keep learning. Even when I’m in one position, I love that I’m able to say, ‘I want to do that,’ and then I can actually go and learn how to do it.”
As she progresses in her career, Bracamonte continues to give back to her community. She volunteers with organizations and programs dedicated to getting underserved students involved with STEM careers. She also works with Spanish-speaking adults, teaching them computer literacy and the skills they need to create anything from a lost dog poster to resumes and cover letters.
“I love to help people who are on the same path I once was,” Bracamonte said. “When I came to this country, I didn’t speak any English. It was very hard for me to do things like getting a loan. My family didn’t know how either. They didn’t go to school. They didn’t know how to help me. So, I like to look for people who want to do something and I want to help them.”
Bracamonte’s combined passion for technology and helping others is the exact mindset Intel looks for in their employees. Regardless of the path they take to get to Intel.