Valerie Ponce - Green Card Voices

Valerie Ponce

Occupation: Clinical Researcher

Country of Birth: Honduras   Current: Rochester, MN

“It was the end of 2013, December 28th to be exact. When I boarded the plane in Tegucigalpa and was on my way to the United States. I remember crying a lot because it was the first time I would be away from my parents and home.”

Born and raised in Honduras, Valerie enjoyed a bright and lively childhood of spending time with her sisters at museums and parks and simply enjoying the sun. In school she really loved learning about science, especially chemistry, and when she began to investigate college degrees, she stumbled across the field of biomedical sciences. Biomedical sciences combine chemistry, biology, and physics, so she was excited to see where that path might take her. 

Valerie’s family often went abroad to complete their degrees—two of her older sisters went to the US to study before her—but she initially planned to go to college in Honduras or Mexico. After some time, she decided to take on a new adventure in the US to experience a culture and a way of life very different than what was familiar and comfortable to her. This led her to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Valerie’s first time experiencing a harsh Minnesotan winter confirmed she really was some place completely new. She spent a lot of time in college meeting other international students and connecting with their shared experiences away from home. 

After graduating, Valerie found herself looking for careers that focused on research more than lab work, so she stumbled upon the field of innovating and developing medical devices. This interested her and made her want to learn about all of the opportunities to work in healthcare that did not directly involve patient care. Looking for jobs as an immigrant provided Valerie with a challenge, as many times she faced questions from employers about potential sponsorship needs, but despite this obstacle, she has found success in the field and loves her life here in Minnesota. When she is not working, she spends her free time volunteering at clinics and exploring the many new cuisine options Minnesota has to offer.