SAN JOSE, California - Gabriel Alcantar, a geotechnical engineer in Kleinfelder’s San Jose office, has demonstrated a tremendous commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in his community as well as stewarding future generations of engineers.
In May, Gabriel graduated from the Latino Board Leadership Academy, a program designed to recruit and train Latinos to serve in leadership roles in the region’s nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. As an active volunteer and advocate for equal representation of all San Jose community members, Gabriel seized the opportunity to attend the Academy. He gained skillsets needed to sit on a nonprofit board, including an understanding of fiduciary, planning and governance responsibilities. “It’s important that the boards of these organizations are ethnically diverse so they can better relate to and represent the communities they serve,” stated Gabriel.
Passionate about educating children and young adults on opportunities in the field of STEM, Gabriel would ideally like to serve on the board of a nonprofit that’s geared towards supporting the education of future generations. This type of position would align well with his current volunteer efforts within the community.
Through his involvement in ACE, an afterschool STEM program, Gabriel has served as a mentor for the past five years to elementary, middle and high school students in San Jose neighborhoods. He also partners with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) to lead STEM educational activities geared toward introducing young students to the possibilities of careers in STEM related fields. “It’s important to introduce STEM activities to students of all backgrounds,” said Gabriel. “I’m in a position where I can really make an impact on students from populations that are generally underrepresented in STEM. I’m familiar with the communities and environments they are growing up in and can serve as a role model in a career that they may not have initially thought was a path.”
In early 2017, Gabriel developed and led the first Dream Big Student Outreach Program in Northern California for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) San Francisco section. He led efforts to obtain an ASCE national grant and used the funding to sponsor a free event for more than 600 children, ages 5 through 16. The children got to view the premiere of Dream Big, an IMAX film showcasing the wonders of engineering. Multiple engineers were recruited to volunteer at the event, allowing for groups of 10 to 15 students to talk about engineering and IMAX technology with an engineer prior to the show, and then have questions answered afterward about engineering and Dream Big.
Working through ASCE, Gabriel also helps college students as the Practitioner Advisor for Santa Clara University's ASCE Student Chapter and leads the Bay Area Younger Members group in a variety of roles. His ASCE commitments include oversight and leadership with a variety of activities such as professional development, resume workshops, student outreach, community service, and providing cross-networking opportunities with other industry-related organizations.
When asked what motivates him, Gabriel explained that he wants to give back to the community that gave to him. When he was young, he was fortunate to have mentors who inspired him and helped guide him to achieving opportunities in the field of engineering. “I really enjoy giving back,” stated Gabriel; “and one of the ways to do this is to be a community leader and role model for younger generations, especially those from ethnic backgrounds that may not have as much access to professional leaders and influences in their lives.”
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