Growing up in East Oakland, Patricia Legaspi enjoyed playing video games and gravitated towards computer science classes in school. Her parents, immigrants from Mexico who hadn’t gone beyond the fourth grade, made education a high priority for their children, and Patricia excelled academically. She won scholarships and entered a local college, transferring to Mills for her junior year because of its strong computer science faculty.
“My experience at Mills taught me to be confident and to learn by questioning data,” she says. “Given the small group environment at Mills, I was able to collaborate with my peers and learn from them. This experience has allowed me to feel comfortable in the collaborative setting that is core to my career.”
That setting has been Google. Upon Patricia’s graduation from Mills, a computer science professor gave her resume to a Google recruiter—and she was hired. She began as a software testing engineer, working on projects such as Google Toolbar. “Over time,” she says, “my responsibilities and impact have grown, and I’ve learned not only to handle a broader scope of technology but also to deal with the human side of management.” Today she is an engineering manager, leading the Chrome OS test engineering team. She has also led large teams working on test tools and strategy for products such as Google Maps and Search.
While Patricia makes an impact on the world through technology, she also makes an impact in her local community by volunteering. “I want to help other underprivileged students understand the opportunities that can exist through an education,” she explains. “So I’ve made myself available as a role model for young women. I’m also the president of Oakland Dollars for Scholars, which awards college scholarships to Oakland high school seniors. Mills offered me a well-rounded education and exposed me to opportunities that I want others to enjoy as well.”