Dante Alvarado-Leon (California) I strongly believe that education is our compass to make history and leave a legacy beyond the classroom. I grew up in what people commonly refer to as “La Frontera,” the border, in the cities of Chula Vista and Tijuana. When I was in elementary school, my mother decided to enroll my sisters and I in a school in the U.S. We had to make many sacrifices, such as crossing the border every morning around 5:00am to go to school. I am grateful for this decision because it opened many doors of opportunity for my family. I am recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where I earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business, and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Technology from the College of Engineering. I am currently a Software and Platforms Senior Research Analyst at Accenture in San Francisco. During my undergrad career, I interned at Facebook for two summers, learning about launching products that connect billions of people worldwide, and I also spearheaded several initiatives in education and technology working with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Google.
I have a love for technology, and a passion for people. At the age of 19, my passion for problem-solving, and my entrepreneurial spirit lead me to launch my first venture, a tech platform to connect companies with nonprofits. Our efforts to spark change were recognized as our team was selected to be part of Manos Accelerator in Silicon Valley, and a finalist for the Hult Prize 2015 Social Enterprise Challenge. In 2016, I also had the opportunity to travel to India to present an EdTech platform to government officials as part of Prime Minister Modi’s Smart Cities Project in Hyderabad and Vizag with 30 other Berkeley Scholars.
This year, I launched my second venture, MentorRoom, an online platform for mentorship, connecting hundreds of students from diverse backgrounds to professionals and professional development resources to inspire the next generation of leaders and geniuses. Through this initiative, we were awarded the Bay Area Inspire Awards, featured in CNN, and selected as one of the recipients for Unvision’s Premios Juventud – Agentes de Cambio (Agents of Change) in Miami. I was also recognized as one of ten students around the nation for the OZY Genius Award in New York, and as the Hispanicize Positive Impact Awards Person of the Year and STEM Star.
What has influenced me the most is living a life in two countries. I grew up in Tijuana, Mexico but I was born in the United States. I experienced how helping others does not always have to be something revolutionary or big, there is a lot we can do as humans in subtle ways that can really touch people and have a large impact in their lives. As myself, I believe that what makes me a leader are the people who surround me, passionate and resilient individuals who have a thirst for social impact, students filled with motivations, inspirations, and dreams, families working day in and day out to provide a great future for their children, and my immigrant abuelitos who came from humble beginnings, never gave up, faced discrimination, and through perseverance were able to immigrate to this country. I will continue being a big dreamer, channeling my energy, talent, and ideas into something that is bigger and more impactful than myself. Si se puede! I am committed to continue advocating for equality and opportunity for all of us, and continue representing our community at the highest standards.
“Remember, success is not measured by how high you climb, but how wide you can reach. So reach wide and the height will take care of itself,” these wise words by Dr. Juan Andrade are written on the first page of my journal. I am a strong believer in the power of education and technology as equalizers for society. My aim is to build ladders, not walls, for students, people, and communities to prosper and help each other grow. I want to bring to the Aspen Institute, the best of both worlds– the American conception of freedom and opportunity, of innovation, and global influence, but from my upbringing, the values that my immigrant abuelitos have inculcated in me of resourcefulness, family, and to always pay it forward.
I would like to offer the Aspen Institute “mi granito de arroz,” or my grain of rice, like my abuelita would say. Being fluent in two languages, being part of two distinct and beautiful cultures, and owning two identities are attributes that define who I am. My actions and experiences surpass borders, and my aim is to shed light on the issues that disparately impact those inhabiting two worlds. I hope to have the opportunity to share this perspective with the Aspen Institute, and the end goal is to incite our minds and hearts to build bridges for others. Participated in Innovation and Culture at the Border.