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Charting a Course to Tech Success: Insights from UC Merced's ¡Valle! Event

April 4, 2024
Thirty students attended ¡Valle! Get Your Start in Tech! at UC Merced
The weekend's events were designed to foster a sense of belonging in the STEM community

How do you find your way to a lucrative career in tech? That's a question many students want answered.

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute at UC Merced hosted the seventh annual ¡Valle! Get Your Start in Tech! event in January. Thirty STEM undergrads from across the Central Valley came together at UC Merced to explore their futures in the world of tech and innovation.

Through workshops, career talks, panels, networking and hands-on activities, ¡Valle! 2024 enabled undergraduate students in STEM to meet each other, build skills and confidence, and learn about rewarding experiences in research or graduate school. Participants grew their communication and networking skills, picked up new coding techniques, gained valuable insights into various career pathways, and got to fly drones.

The weekend's events were designed to foster a sense of belonging in the STEM community, especially for students from historically underrepresented populations. Attendee Erika Maquiling said "¡Valle! was an incredible opportunity to grow professionally and expand my network. I met so many amazing, inspirational people from graduate students to professors and other speakers, and I formed lasting bonds with other attendees while learning how to maintain a growth mindset."

Since 2018, ¡Valle! Get Your Start in Tech! has fostered diversity in the tech industry by increasing the accessibility of research experiences, graduate school, and careers in technology for university and community college students from California's Central Valley.

Professor Erin Hestir, director of CITRIS at UC Merced, emphasized the importance of diverse perspectives in addressing societal challenges through technology.

"California and our planet are facing some of the greatest challenges we have ever faced as a society, and technology is going to be one of the keys to unlocking solutions," she said. "We need a diversity of voices and perspectives advancing those technologies to benefit society. ¡Valle! has helped over 150 Central Valley students gain confidence and find their path to careers in tech. I am looking forward to seeing even more students from the Valley become the face of our future tech workforce."

¡Valle! 2024 received support from the CITRIS Workforce Innovation Program.

Applications for the 2025 event will open in December 2024 and are welcome from undergraduates attending any higher education institutions in the Central Valley.