When Waleria Duarte ’20 was 15 she and her family left Caracas, Venezuela—then ranked as the most violent city in the world—for a new life in Miami, Fla. Her personal motto: Every obstacle is a step to success. “This quote describes my journey and my perspective on life,” she said.
Duarte’s determination is evident in 2020 as she has earned a bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering and a master’s in Management in just four years. “Graduating with two degrees wasn't in my initial plans,” she said. “Even though it was challenging, I couldn't be happier with this decision. My motivation to have a master's degree was to expand my knowledge and take full advantage of the possibilities that WPI was offering. I wanted to make sure my time was filled with actions that helped me in my future career and success.” Last September, she accepted an offer to join GE Aviation’s Operations Management Leadership Program (OMLP).
One of the reasons Duarte was initially attracted to WPI was the opportunity to travel abroad. She did her Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) in Bangkok, Thailand, working in a team of four WPI students and three Thai students from Chulalongkorn University to determine a reliable source of electricity for their sponsor, an orphanage. “I was able to experience a new culture, learn the basics of Thai and work with people from cross-disciplinary backgrounds. This taught me to be a better leader, team member, and professional,” she said.
Besides her studies, Duarte was involved with the WPI chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), joining freshman year and going on to serve as vice president, secretary, treasurer, and community outreach chair. She also participated in three SHPE National Conventions. “I was able to participate and acquire leadership positions that allowed personal and professional growth throughout my time with the club,” she said.
There are some WPI faces Duarte said she will especially miss: Associate Teaching Professor Walter Towner, industrial engineering; Professor Sharon Wulf, business; Associate Professor Angel Rivera, Spanish; Associate Teaching Professor Ingrid Matos-Nin, Spanish; Norman Wilkinson, executive director, Foisie Business School; Statia Canning, assistant director, business programs; and Laurie Stokes, associate director, business programs.
“The thing that I will miss the most about WPI is the variety of resources available that help you succeed and the people that help you along the way,” Duarte reflected. “The professors and staff at WPI have helped and guided me throughout this journey, and I can't thank them enough.”
-By Lauren Borsa-Curran