11-02-2020 08:06 AM
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Employees on their journeys to Intel, helping our communities and encouraging the next generation in STEM.
This November, we are recognizing Native American Heritage Month at Intel. We are proud to amplify our employees, highlighting decades of their contributions and talents they bring to work each day. Read a few of their stories below about how Becky, Seth, and Melissa found their place in STEM, all while giving back to our communities nationwide.
Becky Brown, vice president, Sales and Marketing Group, California
Growing up, I felt the strongest connection to my heritage when we would visit my dad’s family on the Chickasaw reservation in Oklahoma. They would show me pictures and tell me stories about their parents and ancestors, and I was most drawn to the photos of my great-great-grandmother, Mae. I didn’t have Native American role models growing up, so learning about her was magical. Through her photo, I could see how strong and passionate she was about family, life and valuing our Chickasaw culture and history. It made me feel proud.
My parents divorced when I was young, and being Chickasaw meant I had a special bond with my dad. He is an industrial engineer. He recognized in me the desire to see how everything works together, and he took the time to explain it all to me. Our connection in technology and science became part of our relationship.
Hearing about tech wasn’t enough. I wanted to take it apart, see how it was all connected. While that tendency would prove to be of great advantage to me later in life, my mom wasn’t exactly thrilled when I dismantled her car stereo and couldn't figure out how to put it back together. Ironically, some of the things that help me most at Intel are seeing demos – my mind can’t capture the full picture without them. Now, my job is basically all about how to use marketing technology to be super effective, creating personalized experiences, and using our data to tell stories.
There’s a saying I really love: “You cannot be what you cannot see.” This idea lives at the heart of Intel’s 2030 inclusion goals. As a proud Native American woman, I am honored to work for a company that recognizes the importance of representation, while celebrating the passion for innovation that connects us all as One Intel.
Seth Darden, maintenance technician, Arizona
I was one of a few Native American kids in my school growing up in Arizona. I often got in trouble at school. Still, I loved learning, specifically art and technology. Creativity came natural to me, and I was a quick learner on the computer. In high school, I took a graphic design course, and I fell in love. I left my family and friends for college across the country in New York. I was alone and faced many challenges, but this is where I grew. Leaving my comfort zone was the best thing I could have done.
After college, I’ve been jumping from job to job learning about different technologies, from research and development, thermoforming, biochemical, and now, semiconductors at Intel.
My parents are actively involved in Flagstaff and in the Native American community nationwide. They are and have always been my role models. For several years, my parents have been involved with the National American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES). They actually met at an annual national conference. They usually present about how we can use STEM to advance our communities and reservations with the help of keeping our heritage alive in the modern world. A few years ago, they met Sheila, an Intel recruiter based in Arizona, and they connected us. Shelia helped me navigate my job hunt.
Today, I’ve been at Intel almost three years as a maintenance technician, working on the machines that build the product and troubleshooting. I also serve as an Intel representative at AISES events. I love coaching students and professionals on their resumes and interviews. I share the best advice my dad gave me, “Don’t be caught in having a career. You want to be caught in having a life.” At Intel, I have both. I have a career being part of the team bringing the next generation of technology to life. I also get to work with my community and be a role model for kids interested in STEM. Life is good.
Melissa Clah, software engineer, Oregon
My earliest memories are of my grandparents are on their ranch on the Navajo Nation, near Salina Springs, Arizona. My dad died when I was two, and my mom grappled with alcoholism. So my grandparents raised me. Many students don’t complete high school on the reservation due to numerous circumstances. When I was in 10th grade I got pregnant with my first son, and that experience made me more determined than ever to get my diploma.
Thinking back, I had to overcome the absence of my parents while I became a parent myself – as a teenager. I graduated, started college, and life happened. Between another pregnancy and health issues, it took me 10 years to earn my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
I had always wanted to work at Intel in New Mexico. In 2000, when I moved to Oregon with my family, I applied at Intel and was hired as a controls engineer in Logic Technology Development (LTD) Automation supporting 200mm manual lot. Now, 20 years later, I’m working in the Automated Material Handling System, where I manage the equipment and material control system.
More than 15 years ago, I joined the Intel Native American Network (INAN), and the group has been my family away from the reservation. Navajo Nation in May had the highest per capita rate of Covid-19 cases in the United States. I’ve been working with other volunteers in Oregon and Washington to collect supplies, such as personal protective equipment, axes, and propane. We are taking our third trip of supplies later this month.
I am grateful I am to be able to do what I love and contribute at Intel. I’m proud of myself. I kept going – even when I didn't know how. I am blessed with the support I have received from my peers and managers every step of the way.
Intel is committed to diversity across gender, ethnicity and affiliation. It is why we strive to build a culture of belonging, creating a space where everyone can contribute to their fullest potential and deliver their best work. Learn more about the bold moves Intel is making toward inclusion with our 2030 “RISE” Strategy and Goals. Follow Intel on LinkedIn and @WeAreIntel on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. As well, check out our 2019 Intel Diversity and inclusion report.
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About the Author
We make the impossible possible and empower millions around the world through great technology, good corporate citizenship, and inclusive culture. We are Intel, and these are our stories.