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Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2020

Estefania Gonzalez Zubillaga

After completing four out of five years of her production engineering degree at Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, Venezuela, Estefania Gonzalez Zubillaga had to leave her home due to the socio-economic and political unrest.

The engineering management program at Arizona State University was a great fit for Gonzalez Zubillaga’s skills, aspirations and prior studies.

It was a big achievement for Gonzalez Zubillaga to transfer and finish her undergraduate program in two and a half years while adapting to a different culture, country and language. However, what she learned as part of her major helped.

“It was surprising to learn how the managerial techniques that are taught to conduct engineering projects could lead me to reflect on myself and develop a variety of leadership, teamwork and collaborative skills that have exponentially increased my personal growth,” Gonzalez Zubillaga says.

Many of her professors also helped her be successful at ASU, including Lecturers Cheryl Jennings and Joseph Juarez and Professor of Practice Dan McCarville.

Jennings, in particular, was a role model for Gonzalez Zubillaga as a female engineer. 

“Besides being an excellent and brilliant professor, Dr. Jennings always demonstrates the highest standard of personal integrity and hard work, and expects it in return,” Gonzalez Zubillaga says. 

As a woman entering the engineering field, Gonzalez Zubillaga says “there are no real restrictions to what a woman can set her mind to and truly achieve success in a professional space traditionally occupied by men.”

She also credits W. P. Carey School of Business Associate Professor Christopher Neck and his Organization and Management Leadership course with changing how she thinks about her life.

“This class, in particular, taught me that before you can manage others it is crucial you know how to manage yourself,” Gonzalez Zubillaga says. “The techniques and methodologies that I acquired there will guide me through any obstacle life throws at me.”

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering prepared Gonzalez Zubillaga for her future as an engineering professional by instilling a growth mindset. It’s a skill she’ll take with her as she looks into design solutions for large-scale, complex engineering projects for industry — and possibly for graduate school and an MBA. 

She says, “My mind is trained to think that every failure is an opportunity to grow, natural talent is not enough and hard work is essential to thriving.”

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2020 class here.

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