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NMSU alumna received honorary doctorate from Duke University

  • By Duke Today Staff
  • April 11, 2022

Duke University will welcome General Motors CEO Mary Barra as commencement speaker and honor four honorary degree recipients at its commencement exercises on Sunday, May 8. Among the honorary degree recipients is NMSU engineering alumna Sylvia Acevedo.


Nonprofit leader and rocket scientist Sylvia Acevedo currently serves on the board of Qualcomm, a global leader in software, semiconductors and wireless technology. Prior to her arrival at Qualcomm, Acevedo served as CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA.  Acevedo began her career as a rocket scientist at NASA and  worked on two space missions, Solar Probe and Voyager 2.


In her career, Acevedo held executive positions at Apple, Dell and IBM. In 2010, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics in Early Childhood. The same year, the Government of Mexico awarded Acevedo its highest civil rights award, the Ohtli, for her role in increasing the involvement of Hispanic and underserved families in education throughout the United States. 


At Girl Scouts of the USA, Acevedo worked to close the gender gap in technology by introducing girls to STEM experiences in grades K-12 in rural, urban and suburban communities.  Under her leadership, 146 new badges were created. As a result, more than 1.5 million girls now have relevant skills in cybersecurity, automotive engineering, entrepreneurship, coding, robotics and leadership.

Acevedo holds a bachelor's degree with honors in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University. She also holds a graduate degree in engineering from Stanford University -  one of the first Hispanic graduates to do so. Acevedo is a recipient of The Institute of Industrial Engineering and Systems Engineering Captain of Industry Leadership Award.