STEM Professional of the week

Jennifer Arguello      
Kapor Center

A first generation born American and dual citizen of Costa Rica, Jennifer Arguello is a young woman with a strong sense of self empowerment and desire to help others.  Her character was shaped from a young age and stems from her mother’s positive attitude and her father’s motto that “nothing is impossible.” Those qualities coupled with Jennifer’s passion for computers proved to be instrumental on her road to success.

Jennifer began to develop her passion for computers at the age of 6 when her parents gave her a QWERTY keyboard.  Although at the time she was using it as a much loved toy, it turned out she was also taking her first steps into the world of computer programming.  Jennifer continued to explore these interests in high school, taking advantage of the computer science classes that were offered. By the end of her high school career, she had decided  that studying computer engineering in college would be her next step. 

Armed with an innate interest in computers and some prior experience with the subject, Jennifer felt prepared for college. She was not, however, prepared for the pressures of being one of the few females studying engineering. Jennifer found solace in being part of the minority engineering program, which became a very supportive community for her.  

Jennifer was doing well in college, working two jobs and putting herself through school.  However, during her sophomore year, Jennifer had a near death experience and a tragic death in her family. All of the stresses combined would prove to be too much for her and she had to drop out of school. Notwithstanding, Jennifer would not let tragedy deter her from her goals.  With a bit of good fortune and a strong support system, Jennifer figured out a way to change the situation for the better and after hard work, she would eventually earn what at the time felt like an elusive goal.  

In the year 2000, she graduated with a degree in computer engineering from the University of California, San Diego and has spent the last decade working in a variety of roles for startups and large high-tech companies. 

Today, Jennifer serves as a Senior Tech Advisor for the Kapor Center for Social Impact where she actively seeks information on relevant current trends, culture and players in the tech ecosystem. Jennifer advises the organization on program design with a special emphasis on technical consideration and provides leadership in the national conversation around access for computer science education for under-represented youth. 

Not one to forget what her parents taught her, Jennifer makes it a point to help others achieve their own personal success. As a role model, Jennifer is a trailblazing mentor who finds innovative ways to help future generations of Hispanics in STEM. She is praised for her ability to help mentees grow and find their own voice, power and passion. Jennifer understands all too well the challenges of women and underrepresented minorities in the tech industry. 

For almost two decades, Jennifer has been a leader in organizations focused on the advancement of women and minorities in STEM. Her work has earned her various industry recognitions.   Jennifer was named a "2013 Silicon Valley Latino 40 under 40 Latinos2Watch in Science and Technology", 2011 Femmeonomics "Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech2010" and 2010 National Association of Professional Women, Professional Woman of the Year.

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