A Lesson in Diversity

Nov 16, 2009

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Natalie Gil (MISM ’09) views her experience of coming to Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College from her home in Peru as a lesson in diversity. As a Latina working in technology, Natalie describes herself as, “A minority among minorities. Women are generally underrepresented in computing, and this is especially true for Latin American women.”

Natalie came to Heinz College expecting to receive a first-rate education that would provide her with the technical and management skills to succeed as a minority in her chosen field (this was further emphasized when one of the other institutions she applied to told her Heinz was better). However, Natalie was not prepared for the various ethnicities and personalities of the Heinz College student body. The diversity in the classroom has provided Natalie with an opportunity to enhance the “soft skills” necessary to thrive in the work place.

“I know that developing these skills will enable me to understand and work with people from different cultures that have different values, agendas and expectations than me,” said Natalie.

To further her education and learn more about career opportunities, Natalie attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference held in Arizona in September 2009. Natalie credits the Graduate Student Association and the Student Activities Committee at the Heinz College for making her trip possible, “I could not have gone without the funding I received.” The conference was a rewarding and memorable experience for her, as she networked with women executives in the computing field. They discussed the social, cultural and personal challenges that women face and how to adapt these sometimes difficult circumstances.

As the recipient of the Master of Information Systems Management Merit Scholarship, Natalie says, “The scholarship was definitely a major factor in deciding to enroll in the Heinz College. I make the most of my time here because of the financial support I received.” In addition to her academic work, Natalie is involved in several activities outside of the classroom. She is the president of the Product Management Club, which provides the network and resources to students interested in being program, project, or product managers. She also plays intramural tennis and is active in the Karate Club and Habitat for Humanity.

In talking about the future, Natalie sees herself in a management role that bridges the gap between people and technology. Her dream job is becoming an executive of service management at a large-scale company. With her unique ability to relate to people and the exceptional technical background and new training she developed at the Heinz College, Natalie has the ability to turn her dream into reality.

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