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My name is Gabrielle Valladares and I’m a Civil Engineer Major. I am currently a second-year student. Fall 2023 will mark my third year here at UCF. In 2021, I graduated from Apopka High School which is located in Apopka, Florida. Surprisingly, one of my favorite classes that I’ve taken so far is Statics with Dr. Zaurin. Although it was challenging, Statics helped me realize my potential as an engineer. If I put in the work for these types of problems, I know I’m capable of more. Lectures were also always engaging. My favorite teacher that I’ve had is hands down my Calculus 2 teacher, Killian Muollo. He always had a concise way of teaching and created a comfortable learning space for all students. I wish he could’ve taught me all my math classes. Why I decided to get involved with GEMS was because I thought it would be a great way to meet other people in my major/field. As a freshman, I also wanted that feeling of assurance that I knew a mentor could offer me. Once I got into the program, it became so much more. Not only did I get to connect with the other mentees, but I also learned a lot from the guest speakers. My expectations for the program this year include what I experienced as a mentee. I hope to offer the same assurance and guidance to other girls who are in the same shoes I was in my freshman year. I also hope the incoming mentees will feel comfortable enough to connect with me and the other mentees, ask me any questions, and attend the GEMS events. If I had to give to advice to upcoming EXCEL students, it would be to practice your time management skills from the beginning. Although your freshman year seems daunting and overwhelmingly busy, if you find what works in your schedule, you can still make the most of your college experience.

Some things I enjoy outside of school include, playing piano and guitar, reading/listening to audiobooks, going to the gym, and hanging out at the beach with my friends.