09/28/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/26/2021 18:06
In Mexico, Francisco Velez-Cedeno was working toward a bachelor's degree mechanical with a minor in electrical engineering - thinking that he'd working in a manufacturing plant or designing mechanical components in Mexico. But an opportunity to further his education in the United States, changed those plans.
For Francisco and his family, higher education has always been important.
"My parents worked hard so that I could have the opportunities and tools to pursue higher education - a bachelor's degree and PhD," Francisco said. "Both of my parents hold master's degree, and that was an inspiration growing up, I wanted to be like them."
In continuing his education, Francisco shifted gears and began working towards a PhD in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech. This was his first time living outside of Mexico, so understandably he was a little nervous about such a big move.
"I was raised in Monterrey, Mexico, one of the largest cities in the country, so it was a challenge to adjust to Blacksburg at first," said Francisco. "But I began to enjoy the benefits that small towns have to offer such as no traffic jams and plenty of personal space. I also enjoyed exploring the outdoors and Hokie football season."
The small town, slower pace of life also proved to be a great environment for Francisco to concentrate on his studies. And although he spent many of his hours studying, he still found time to connect with his new community.
"I immediately met many people that made me felt welcomed to Virginia Tech and the United States," Francisco shared. "I was surprised about the enormous diversity that this country has, and I was able to meet many people from many parts of the world."
While working toward his PhD he found his passion for electrical engineering - a discipline that has found solutions to very complex problems, using very sophisticated tools.
Today, he works as manager of electric transmission operations engineering. And his job is to ensure that we're able to provide affordable and reliable electricity to our customers in Virginia and North Carolina. He conducts studies to ensure our electrical system is able to meet the energy needs of today and the future.
After 15 years in the United States, Francisco has built a life here. He met his wife, Amanda, and they enjoy hiking local trails, visiting the Outer Banks beaches and spending time with their children. Francisco was able to obtain his U.S. citizenship in 2016.
And even though Virginia is now his home, his ties to his heritage and his family back in Mexico remains strong.