Beauty queen a role model for women in science

Angelica Gallegos

Computer science major Angelica Gallegos was crowned Miss Fiestas Patrias by the Mexican Cultural Center of DuPage.

In her roles as a computer science student and a pageant queen, Angelica Gallegos wants to be a role model for young girls and women.

“Both roles focus heavily on being strong and independent, which is something that a lot of young girls need to see,” said Gallegos, an Honors College student.

“There need to be more role models, especially in the Hispanic culture. Only 1 percent of Hispanic women are in computer science.”

A freshman at UIC, Gallegos already has a busy schedule with maintaining good grades to keep her scholarship, extracurricular activities like the Women in Science and Engineering program and volunteer work.

Now she has more commitments after being named 2013 Miss Fiestas Patrias by the Mexican Cultural Center of DuPage.

The pageant, held in September during Fiestas Patrias — which celebrates independence for Mexico, Honduras and other Central American countries — promotes culture, heritage and education for young Hispanic women.

All candidates for the crown had to appear at community events and meetings, interview with the pageant board of directors and make public speeches.

As queen, Gallegos will attend all activities that support the festival and complete community service hours.

How does Gallegos find the time to be a student and queen?

“It’s a lot of work,” Gallegos said. “I’m constantly looking at my calendar to make sure I’m not forgetting to be somewhere or doing something.”

Gallegos’s family hails from Aguascalientes, Mexico. She is the first person in her family to go to college.

“My dad helps me out as best as he can,” she said. “College is something he doesn’t know much about but he’s always saying, ‘Just tell us what you need.’ He’s been extremely supportive.”

As queen, Gallegos wants to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers to girls and young women.

“I think there’s a lot of misconceptions with computer science and more girls need to be aware of everything they can study in college,” she said.

Gallegos is a peer mentor with UIC’s WISE program and plans to start a mentoring program at her old middle school.

“It’s very important to have someone to look up to,” she said.

“I had a dance coach that I looked up to a lot when I was younger and she really helped me out with a lot of my decisions. It’s important to have that kind of role model to push you forward.”

Her volunteer work has included traveling to the Dominican Republic with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a program that helps orphaned, abandoned and at-risk children receive education, health care and spiritual formation.

“I’m a firm believer that if you do good things, then good opportunities can come,” she said.


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