Interview by Howie Rhee.

Duke I&E: What did you do before Duke and where did you live?
VR: I grew up in San Antonio, Texas and went to an all-girls Catholic high school. During high school I was president of the Latin Club, played the harp and spent my summers at the Texas State Honors Summer Math Camp.

Duke I&E: What did you focus on at Duke? What were your main activities and areas of study?
VR: My first two years at Duke were unfocused. I was involved in Blue Devils United, the LGBT student organization, and volunteered as an HIV counselor. I also played club rugby. Academically, I switched between engineering, economics and public policy classes.

I started to focus on entrepreneurship during my junior year after an internship at a social enterprise startup in San Francisco. I worked at startups and learned as much as I could about Silicon Valley.

Duke I&E: Tell us about the Summer Innovation Program. What did you do and what did you learn?
VR: I interned at Jellyfish Art. I spent most of my time creating Google Adwords campaigns that generated thousands of dollars in revenue for the startup. Since the website manager was part time and remote, I was able to also gain experience with web development. However, the Summer Innovation Program was more than just an internship. Through the books we read, group discussions and field trips I became immersed in Silicon Valley culture. During my senior year I was thankful for the people I met during the program. They were extremely supportive while I finished my Computer Science major searched for a startup job.

Duke I&E: You switched to Computer Science. How did that go? Was it too late to do it?
VR: I had enough classes to easily graduate with a minor in Computer Science. However, completing the rest of the classes for the major during my senior year was very difficult. I sought out lots of help from my professors and classmates. During that semester I was also looking for a post-graduation job which added to the stress. While it wasn’t too late, it is not a path I recommend. I succeeded because I had excellent study skills, could cope well with stress and was completely committed to finishing off the major. I missed out on taking interesting elective classes, doing research and building relationships over time with professors and classmates.

Duke I&E: What did you do after graduating from Duke?
VR: I received my offer from Bizo during the last week of class. I moved to San Francisco and began working for the startup in July.

Duke I&E: Bizo was just acquired, what has that experience been like?
VR: It’s been very exciting. I look forward to developing even more as a software engineer and doing great things with the Bizo team at LinkedIn.

Duke I&E: You are involved in diversity efforts in the Bay Area. Tell us about that.
VR: I mentored at Hackbright Academy, a 12-week software development training program exclusively for women. I was a teacher at OpenHatch’s Open Source Comes to Campus event at City College San Francisco. I spent a day teaching at the Maven Queer Youth Tech Camp. I am also a member of the feminist hackerspace Double Union. I enjoy teaching and care deeply about exposing people from underrepresented groups to computer programming. I primarily hear about these volunteer opportunities through Twitter, Meetup and email newsletters.

Duke I&E: Any key pieces of advice to pass on to Duke students?
VR: You will accomplish more and be less stressed if you focus on what’s most important to you. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Duke I&E: Favorite memory of Duke?
VR: Going with my friends to Duke Performances and dance parties at the Pinhook.

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