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Do Wonderful Spotlight: Ana Manriquez, planting the seeds of STEM

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A team of wonderful Intel volunteers travels 360 miles to Yuma, Arizona every year during Computer Science Education Week, where they introduce the world of coding to students, and show them that anyone can be an engineer. Though many of these kids have never met an engineer—and some don’t even know what STEM is—by the end of the workshop, they are eager for the next session. This profound impact is thanks to Ana Manriquez.

Shortly after joining Intel, Ana was looking for a way to give back to her community. Luckily, she discovered the Intel Latinx Network (ILN), an employee resource group (ERG), committed to the advancement, inclusion, visibility, and retention of Latinx people at Intel and in surrounding communities.

Fast forward three years and Ana is now one of the co-chairs of the ILN Community Outreach and Education pillar, where she guides the group’s resources to have the greatest impact and connects Intel volunteers to schools and nonprofits. While ILN keeps her busy with community outreach, Ana felt she had even more to give—particularly, to help rural communities in Arizona.

In Yuma and other areas outside of the Phoenix valley, STEM education opportunities can be limited due to lack of exposure and resources. Ana resolved to solve this issue, so she founded the Border Town STEM Education Initiative to help bridge the educational gap. By partnering with schools and organizations to create workshops, events, and other opportunities, Ana has expanded the pathways to eventual STEM careers for students.

Her devotion to rural communities in Arizona stems from knowing them intimately. Growing up in Yuma, a small town near the Arizona border, Ana attended George Washington Carver Elementary after moving to the United States from Mexico. With the help of her teachers, Ana quickly learned her second language, English.

As an undocumented person, Ana knew early on that she would have to be seen as exceptional for a chance to attend college. But Ana’s impressive academic achievements and tenacity made her an undeniably candidate, eventually studying at Arizona State University—while still continuously overcoming challenges documented students never face. After earning her diploma, Ana began her career as an engineer, working at several organizations before joining Intel.

Over the years, Carver Elementary remained dear to her. Since her time there, STEM resources had not greatly expanded for students. Seeing this, and remembering her own experiences, Ana was motivated to do more. Now every year Ana mobilizes Intel volunteers to go the extra mile(s) to bring STEM activities to students in rural towns like Yuma, including a visit to Carver Elementary. Ana says it’s particularly fulfilling to see girls, who often start the workshop timid and shy, eventually leading their team and helping others.

“To be able to see the world of these students expand right in front of my eyes. Seeing how nervous they may be at the beginning and then seeing how confident they become by the end of the sessions, especially girls who had counted themselves out from coding and STEM,” Ana shared, reflecting on the reward of the workshops.

Through ILN, Ana has been able to mobilize an entire community of people to Do Wonderful, helping students see the variety of options available to them in STEM careers. By providing a safe space for Latinx representation, Ana says she hopes the initiative will allow “our youth to count themselves in, especially young women in STEM.”

AnaM-classroom-1.png Ana volunteering prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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