A Latina, Engineer, and much more!

By: HFSV September 21, 2021

A Latina, Engineer, and much more!

Mara Leandro is a Reliability RDP Engineer at SunPower – an American energy company that designs and manufactures solar panels. Her position entails evaluating products through a series of tests to ensure the product can withstand significant damages and harsh environments. However, her dream of pursuing a career as a mechanical engineer wasn’t an easy path. As a high school student, she received minimal support from her counselor when she expressed she wanted to attend San Jose State University (SJSU) due to her being an DACA student. Therefore, she opted to enroll into Evergreen Valley Community College (EVC) in San Jose.

At EVC, Mara met a counselor, Mirella Burton, that was instrumental in her career path and her success during her time there. Dr. Burton was the head counselor of the Enlace program which assists Chican@/Latin@ students successfully complete the academic core courses (English, Math, and Science), and guides them through transfer and occupational courses in a timely manner. Thanks to this program Mara felt as though she was finally on the correct path towards transferring to a 4-year university.

During Mara’s years at EVC, Dr. Burton was her mentor and was the first to inform her about the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley’s Latinos in Technology Scholarship Program. Mara was reluctant to apply at first because the deadline was really close. She also believed she was highly unlikely to receive the scholarship because there are so many well qualified Latino students in Silicon Valley that the odds of her receiving the scholarship were extremely low. Mara did not apply. But to her luck, the scholarship opened once again with a short extension deadline. Dr. Burton contacted Mara immediately to let her know and to encourage her to apply. She believed she could get it. Mara was ecstatic!

As a junior at SJSU, she had not only locked down a scholarship but, by the end of the first school year, she was getting ready for her first internship at ETM Electromatic, as a mechanical engineer. Carl Guardino, President and CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group and supporter of Hispanic Foundation, got to know Mara well because of the Latinos in Technology Scholarship initiative. After graduating from SJSU, Mara was sought out by Carl to assist her in finding a job in the area she was interested in pursuing, and was thrilled when SunPower eventually contacted her about an open position! Today, Mara continues working at SunPower as a Reliability RDP Engineer intern, and is enjoying every second of it. She wishes to stay in the environmental aspect and hopes to also motivate and assist young Latinx students to attend college and pursue their dreams. 

Mara was our guest speaker at our 30th Annual Hispanic Foundation Ball. Stay tuned to learn more about Mara Leandro.

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