Spotlight

Alumna Rosalva Gallardo Valencia Establishes Graduate Award to Honor Heritage

ICS Dean Prof. Marios Papaefthymiou, Informatics Chair Prof. André van der Hoek, Alumna Dr. Rosalva Gallardo Valencia, and ISR Assistant Director Debra A. Brodbeck celebrate establishment of award.In Fall quarter, the Rosalva Gallardo Valencia Graduate Award in ICS was established by alumna Rosalva Gallardo Valencia (Ph.D. 2012) to honor her heritage and support graduate students in need. The establishment of this $10,000 annual award fulfills her dream of supporting students as they pursue their degrees.

Gallardo Valencia, a native of Peru, first came to UCI in 2006 after receiving a fellowship. She left her job as a software engineer in Lima to pursue her Ph.D. at UCI in ICS, specializing in Software Engineering. “For the first three years, I didn’t have a car,” she says, recalling how it took her two hours by bus to get to Ikea — less than 10 miles from campus — to buy items for her apartment. “And with all the stress of working on my Ph.D., I really wanted see my family, but that was something I just couldn’t afford.”

As Gallardo Valencia worked on her candidacy exam during her third year of studies and served as a teaching assistant, her advisor, Informatics Professor Susan Sim, learned about the Miguel Velez fellowship for Latin American graduate students. “She saw my struggles financially and applied on my behalf,” says Gallardo Valencia, who knew nothing about the application. When Sim showed her the acceptance letter, she could hardly believe she had been awarded $10,000. She was shocked to learn there were no restrictions on the funding. “The first thing I did was buy a car and also a ticket to go back home to see my family,” says Gallardo Valencia. While she did use some of the funds to buy books and attend conferences, she says the initial purchases were just as important to her academics. “It took a huge weight off my shoulders and had such an impact on my well-being.” Everything became so much easier with a car that she had more time and energy for her studies. Similarly, she found she could better focus on work after taking a break to visit family. “It’s good to have a balance, but sometimes you don’t have the resources to have that balance.”

The fellowship had such a positive influence on her life as a Ph.D. student, both physically and emotionally, that she vowed to one day return the favor. “I don’t know when or how,” she recalls telling herself, “but someday, I want to offer a fellowship to help other students.” Today, Gallardo Valencia is a data analytics program manager for Partner Developer Relations at Google. Through Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, she returned to Peru a few years ago to collaborate with Laboratoria, an organization that trains low-income Latin American women as front-end developers and UX designers.

Gallardo Valencia is also a co-founder of the Network of Professional Peruvians in Science and Technology in Silicon Valley (PeruSV.org), a group of Peruvian tech professionals committed to closing the technology and innovation gap in Peru.

“Studying at UCI opened so many doors for me,” she says. “The great education that I received enabled me to work at Intel and now at Google, and because of that, I am in a position to share my story, to amplify my voice and to share with other Latinos that they too can dream about doing similar things.”

This desire to help others is something she learned from her parents. “My family is very generous and likes to give back to the community,” she explains. “You don’t need to have a lot to give. You just need the determination to give. And I have seen that my whole life through my family.”

“I really hope this award will make a difference in someone’s life,” says Gallardo Valencia. This is a condensed version of an article by Senior Writer Shani Murray which appeared on the ICS website in October. Read the full article at: https://bit.ly/2P3Qz3o

How to Contribute to the Graduate Award

You can give online by going to the online donation page for the award (CLICK HERE).  

If you prefer to send a check, make it out to “UCI Foundation” and mail it to:

University of California, Irvine
5200 Engineering Hall 
Irvine, CA 92697-2700 
Attn: Catherine Rupp

Please indicate in the note area that the check is for the Rosalva Gallardo Valencia Graduate Award in ICS.

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This article appeared in ISR Connector issue: