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DCE Magazine

Alumni Spotlight: From Brazil, with Love

Summer 2019

DCE alumna Mariana Boeira Pozas is building a new life in the U.S. — and loving every minute.

When it came time for Mariana Boeira Pozas and her fellow students to graduate from DCE's Business English program in 2018, there was only one person considered to give the final speech. It had to be Mariana, a reflection of the Brazilian native's vibrant and engaging personality.

“If you meet me in person, you'd probably go ‘Okay, now I get it!’” she admits, laughing. “I'm just kidding, but I am very communicative and participate a lot in my classes. I have a strong personality but at the same time I am extremely kind with people, so I guess people usually like me.”

Gail Schwartz and Karen Vallejo, the two teachers who invited her, were very clear who they wanted for the speech. “They said, ‘Mariana, you have good experience in business and at the same time you motivate people. We would love if you could give the speech.’ So I accepted and I must tell you — it was an awesome experience.”

The speech turned out to be a great honor as well as a way for Mariana to showcase her language skills and offer expert marketing tips, boosted by her experience in Business English as well as two other DCE certificate programs.

Now she's busy living a wonderful life in Laguna Beach with her husband and two children and working as a data analyst at AWM Smart Shelf, a leader in innovative retail marketing. When her family decided to establish roots in the U.S., choosing UCI was a no-brainer, a decision that has paid off handsomely, she said.

One warm late-winter day Mariana was kind enough to take a break from work and field some questions about life in Laguna, her time spent at UCI and the difference it made.

Let's start with your DCE experience. You took Data Science and Predictive Analytics, Digital Marketing, and Business English. How have they helped advance your marketing career?

Well, in Brazil I had my own marketing business, working with small business clients mainly in digital marketing. So when my family and I decided to move to the U.S., I realized I needed to update my digital skills and learn data science, too. I had to find a great university, and I thought there was no better place on earth than California. So today I say UCI programs were crucial for my career. In data science I'm a total newbie, and when it comes to digital marketing, I realize that I know a lot, but it's a field where things change very fast. So I always have to refresh my knowledge. And when I say always, I mean every other month. It is super fast.

Lots of California universities offer marketing programs. What made you decide on UCI Division of Continuing Education?

I studied at UCSD for a few months in 2002 when I lived in San Diego, so I already knew and trusted the University of California system. Also, my family and I wanted to live in Orange County — it's a great place to raise kids — and I didn't have any doubts about what would be the best university to apply to for these programs.

What role did those programs play in achieving your new position with AWM Smart Shelf? Did you get the job through your UCI internship?

That's exactly what happened. I applied for the internship through UCI DCE. I saw on Indeed.com that AWM Smart Shelf was looking to hire a data scientist and I thought, well, maybe they'd accept interns. So I sent an email with my resume and in 30 minutes one of the CEOs called and said, ‘Why did you send your resume if we don't have any positions for interns?’ I told him, well, we never know if we don't ask. He said he loves proactive people, and asked if I could come for an interview. Well, the rest of the story is still happening, as you know.

So what made you decide to leave Brazil and establish your life and career in Orange County?

My husband, Rafael, and I both lived in San Diego in the past and love California. When we got married, we always thought we'd come back so the kids could have this amazing experience of living abroad. I know what you might be thinking: Living in a different country with kids, working in an American company in a new field, with a completely different culture and language. She might be crazy! Well, yeah, a little. But I can tell you, I've never been so happy.

Sounds fascinating and exciting, really. How would you compare the two cultures?

What stood out most is that Americans are task-oriented and Brazilians are relationship-oriented. Both are great qualities. And if I understand how to use them appropriately in different circumstances, that could be a big advantage for me. I'd also say that problems are solved faster here than in Brazil. There's a lot of bureaucracy and it usually takes more time to solve problems. But at the same time Brazilians are very creative. So, when we have a problem, we start thinking in more than one way of solving it because we never know if the first solution will work.

What was it like adjusting to life in Laguna Beach?

In the beginning it wasn't easy. Our kids didn't speak English, they had no friends, and they pushed themselves a lot to keep up. But we've adjusted really well. My husband got a visa for starting his real estate business here, and he's very excited.

What sort of things do you guys do for fun?

On weekdays it's school and work, and on the weekends, the beach! Here's something funny about me: I'm still a huge fan of Scooby-Doo cartoons. I watch the show every day with my son. And to keep up with my daughter, I am currently reading the whole collection of Dork Diaries. She and I love these books.