Alessandra Rios Canelo shares her journey from Lima, Peru to Gladstone Institutes.


Alessandra Rios Canelo is a benefits coordinator in Gladstone’s People Services team. She was born and raised in Lima, Peru. In 2013, just a few months before she turned 18, she moved to the US, in Salinas, California.

While getting adjusted to the fierce culture change, she registered at a local community college and began three ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and a math class. In 2017, she transferred to San Francisco State University and earned a BA in communication studies.

She worked full-time throughout her entire college education, and actually started working at Gladstone Institutes in 2018—a year before she graduated.

What brought you to Gladstone?

After having completed two internships within different departments—marketing, human resources, and account management—I decided I would start a career in human resources, ideally in a place with a mission and vision to have a positive impact on society.

In October 2018, a temp agency contacted me for an administrative assistant position in the Human Resources department at Gladstone, but I had to start that same day. After doing research on the organization and discovering its purpose, I decided to accept the proposal and in December 2018, I officially became a Gladstonian!

What do you like about Gladstone?

I’ve had the opportunity to work in different industries with people from different backgrounds and ages, but I have never felt so supported and welcomed as I do at Gladstone. Gladstone not only distinguishes itself by having such a talented and hard-working community, but also by having such a diverse culture with extremely kind and friendly people.

Can you describe your work at Gladstone?

People Services consists of a number of small teams and I belong to the benefits team. Most of my work is focused on helping employees with their leaves (parental leave, disability leave, etc.), from start to finish. Each leave is so different and this is what makes my job very interesting and rewarding.

I’m also responsible for reviewing and approving requests for other benefits we offer and organizing workshops for professional development.

What do you do when you are not working?

I really enjoy doing things with my hands and in the last 2 years, I’ve learned to make candles, resin trays, and in the last couple of months, I’ve been super into making beaded accessories and jewelry.

I also really enjoy going to different Peruvian restaurants in the Bay Area and going to yoga classes.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I’ve always wanted to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator to design logos, templates, brochures, etc. I find it amazing how designers understand users and also create innovative solutions. When I was an intern, I developed a technique to color code floor plans using Adobe Illustrator. I had no idea how to use Illustrator and started to learn thanks to YouTube.

What is your hidden talent?

I love to do my nails and also do them for my friends. I have many products at home and I swear that they turn out as nice as when you go to the salon!

If you could meet any scientist from any point in time, who would it be and why?

When my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, I began to research more about it and discovered the great contributions of Mary-Claire King. While trying to figure out why this happened to my grandmother, I read about King’s discovery of “the breast cancer gene” and learned that this disease could run in families. Fortunately, my grandmother is now healthy, but this has taught me to take more preventive measures for my own health. I’m sure that her studies have saved and inspired thousands of women in the world.

September 15–October 15 is Latinx Heritage Month. What does this holiday mean to you?

I’m extremely proud to be Latina and especially Peruvian. It makes me tremendously happy that we can recognize the history, traditions, and contributions to American society and culture that Hispanic communities have made.

Want to Join the Team?

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