Alumni Spotlight: From Brazil, with Love
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.