Rose Ochoro: Rising Star in Miss Florida USA and Advocate for Equity in Tech

Rose Ochoro: Rising Star in Miss Florida and Advocate for Equity in Tech

Meet our July outstanding communicator of the month, Rose Ochoro, a Kenyan-born chemical engineer and dedicated advocate for equity in tech, is making waves as a contestant in the Miss Florida USA pageant. Her inspiring journey, from immigrating to the United States to working as a Senior Validation Engineer at Pfizer, highlights her dedication and resilience. Now, Rose is combining her technical expertise with her passion for advocacy, aiming to break down barriers for Black women-led tech startups.

Growing up in Kenya, Rose was instilled with a deep appreciation for education by her parents, who taught her that women can be both intellectually capable and beautiful. This foundation led her to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida. 

Despite her demanding career, Rose has always harbored a desire to participate in pageants, and she is now bringing her unique blend of intelligence, beauty, and advocacy to the Miss Florida USA stage. The pageant will be held at Coral Springs Center For The Arts from July 5-7, 2024.

Rose’s involvement in the tech industry is driven by her commitment to supporting her sister Maggie’s tech startup. Teaching herself coding to contribute to the venture, Rose demonstrated her versatility and dedication. Although the startup ultimately failed due to a lack of funding—a common challenge for Black women-led tech ventures—Rose remains committed to advocating for more equitable opportunities in the tech industry. She aims to eliminate the barriers that hinder Black women entrepreneurs, using her platform to spotlight the challenges they face.

Beyond her professional achievements, Rose has been a dedicated volunteer at the Rick and Rita Case Club – Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County for several years. She participates in charity events, lectures students on entering the tech industry, and provides emotional support to patients at Memorial Hospital West. Her community involvement extends to the cultural sphere, where she has contributed to Art Fort Lauderdale. – The Art Fair on the Water, enriching the cultural landscape of her community.

Rose’s advocacy doesn’t stop at her local community. She is committed to raising awareness about the significant hurdles Black women-led tech startups face, including heightened investor scrutiny and pervasive biases based on race and gender. These challenges contribute to a funding landscape where female-founded startups, particularly those led by Black women, face disproportionate challenges. Rose uses her platform to advocate for more equitable funding opportunities and to bring attention to the unique barriers these entrepreneurs navigate.

In her free time, Rose enjoys reading books on technology and innovation, hiking nature trails, and staying updated with the latest advancements in the tech industry. She is passionate about promoting diversity in STEM fields and frequently mentors young girls interested in pursuing careers in science and engineering. Rose also prioritizes fitness and health, participating in activities that promote well-being and physical fitness. Family is of utmost importance to her, and she values spending quality time with them.

To learn more about Rose’s journey and her thoughts on various topics, we asked her seven insightful questions:

1. As a chemical engineer and pageant finalist, how do you plan to use your platform to inspire more young women to pursue careers in STEM fields?

“I plan to use the Miss Florida USA platform to inspire young girls to explore STEM by organizing workshops and mentorship programs through local schools and community organizations. I will also leverage social media and public speaking to highlight women’s achievements in STEM and advocate for supportive policies and programs. My goal is to spark curiosity and confidence in young girls, showing them that they can excel in STEM.”

2. Can you share a specific challenge you’ve faced as a woman in STEM leadership and how you overcame it?

“One significant challenge was facing investor biases as a co-founder of a Black woman-led startup. Despite our innovative ideas, we struggled to secure funding. To overcome this, I continuously built my skills, sought mentors, and mentored young women in STEM. By turning this challenge into an opportunity to inspire others, I advocate for greater gender diversity and equality in the tech industry.”

3. How has your Kenyan heritage influenced your approach to both your professional career and your pageant journey?

“My Kenyan heritage taught me the value of hard work and education, motivating me to excel in chemical engineering and tech. It instilled perseverance and a deep pride in my identity, driving me to break barriers. In my professional career, I advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM. In the Miss Florida pageant, I use my platform to promote gender equality and education, inspired by my cultural values of community and giving back.”

4. You’ve mentioned the struggles of your sister’s tech startup. What specific changes do you believe are necessary to improve funding opportunities for women-led tech ventures?

“To improve funding for women-led tech ventures, we need more women in venture capital, dedicated funding programs, mentorship opportunities, bias training for investors, and showcasing successful women-led startups. Additionally, collaborative funding models and promoting gender equality in STEM education are crucial to creating a supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.”

5. How do you think your participation in the Miss Florida pageant contributes to increasing diversity in pageantry and changing perceptions about women in STEM?

“My participation in Miss Florida USA challenges stereotypes and promotes diversity in pageantry and STEM. By representing women in STEM, I show that beauty and intelligence coexist. I use the platform to advocate for women in STEM, share my journey, and mentor young women. This visibility helps normalize women in STEM and encourages a more inclusive understanding of women’s capabilities.”

6. Can you tell us about a moment when you felt your presence as a woman of color in the tech industry made a significant impact?

“One impactful moment was mentoring a Black woman intern at Pfizer, helping her with her resume and career advice. Another was advising a college freshman on coding at a Miami event for Black women in tech. These experiences underscored the importance of mentorship and representation, inspiring underrepresented individuals to pursue tech careers.”

7. How do you balance your demanding career as a Senior Validation Engineer with your pageant preparation and community involvement?

“Balancing my career, pageant preparation, and community involvement requires effective time management, prioritization, and a strong support system. I use digital tools for planning, focus on high-priority tasks, and rely on my family and mentors for support. Maintaining flexibility, setting boundaries, and practicing self-care are essential to staying balanced and motivated.”

Rose’s responses not only shed light on her personal journey but also emphasize her dedication to creating a more inclusive and equitable tech industry. Her story is a testament to the power of perseverance, education, and advocacy.

As Rose continues to inspire those around her, she invites you to support her journey by voting for her in the People’s Choice Award. Your vote can help her secure a spot in the semi-finals, allowing her to further her advocacy work and represent the values she holds dear.

Cast your vote for Rose today and be part of her inspiring journey towards the Miss Florida USA crown.

Vote People's Choice award for Rose Ochoro for Miss Florida USA!

“Empowerment is not just about personal success; it’s about lifting others as you rise. Let’s create a world where every woman, regardless of race or background, has the opportunity to thrive.” 

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