This story was posted on behalf of Bill Davidson, Media and Communications Manager at Intel New Mexico.
Nine years ago, Vanessa Looper did something that no other woman in her extended family had done before: she earned a college degree. Now Vanessa channels her drive for achievement into a commitment to help other young women overcome their own barriers.
A third generation Mexican-American from El Paso, Texas, Vanessa was the oldest of four children in a single parent home. By age 14 she was working part-time to help make ends meet. “My mom did her best to keep us involved in sports and activities and always pushed us to do our best in school so we could one day live a better life,” she said. “I knew that I needed to get scholarships to go to college, so I was determined to do well in school and also be a well-rounded student.”
In high school, science was Vanessa’s best subject. “I knew that I wanted to be an engineer when I was a freshman in high school,” she said. For two summers between high school years, Vanessa attended a pre-engineering program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Vanessa took all Honors and AP classes, lettering in academics and physics. “On graduation day I was proud to sit on the stage because I was in the top 2% on my class,” she said.
To attend the University of Texas at Austin, Vanessa earned scholarships and need-based grants. Her science professor encouraged her to apply for more, and she got them: Vanessa received an American Chemical Society scholarship and a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium scholarship. In 2003 she earned her BS in Chemical Engineering
Vanessa earned two internships with Intel and was recruited into the company’s Rotation Engineering Program. She was placed full-time in February 2004 and currently works as a process engineer at Intel Rio Rancho in New Mexico.
Since 2005 Vanessa has been active in the Society of Women Engineers, dedicated to encouraging and inspiring the next generation of engineers. She has served as an officer for the last six years and currently acts as a local SWE champion for Intel’s New Mexico Site.
Today as a wife and mother of three balancing home and career, Vanessa has a message to young women considering a career in engineering: “You can do it! Work hard and stick with it. Fight for what you want in life.”