Marlene Quijano ’85 graduated from the College of Engineering with a degree in Chemical Engineering. She spent the next 30 years fulfilling a career at Kraft Foods, where she held leadership roles across Innovation, Product & Process Development, Quality, Cost Management, Packaging and Engineering. She served as the Kraft Cornell Key School recruiter for over 15 years as well as serving on The Cornell Food Science Advisory Board and the Chemical Engineering Advisory Council. She is a member of Cornell President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW), where she is currently vice chair of mentoring and focuses on first-generation mentoring. She is also vice president of Cornell Club of Northern New Jersey (CCNNJ). She is passionate about giving back and established the Marlene Quijano Class of 1985 Engineering Scholarship in the College of Engineering to make a transformative difference in the lives of students.
Tell us about your journey to Cornell.
As a first-generation student, my parents instilled in me the value of education for a bright future. Having made the decision to study chemical engineering, when I visited Cornell, I knew it was the place I wanted to study. It felt inviting and challenging.
How did you get involved as a Cornell volunteer?
During my early years after graduation, I was involved with conducting alumni interviews to prospective students. Next came my tenure on the Cornell Food Science Advisory Council and the Chemical Engineering Advisory Board. Once I retired in 2015, I knew I wanted to funnel my energy and time to give back to Cornell. I became much more involved with PCCW and attended my first CCNNJ event.
What has been your favorite volunteer moment?
There have been many favorite moments as I feel that I finally have the time to attend events, meet fellow Cornellians, and give back through my mentoring.
How has Cornell impacted who you are today?
Cornell opened the door for me to have a wonderful career, take care of my parents, provide for my family and inspire me to give back to do the greatest good.
Is there a Cornell Program or initiative that is near and dear to your heart?
I love to mentor students and as of fall 2022, I initiated a scholarship in the College of Engineering to assist first-generation and low-income students to receive the opportunity that I received 41 years ago.
What has motivated your lifelong philanthropy?
The desire to give back so that other students can benefit from the same opportunity given to me.
Is there something that the Cornell Club of Northern New Jersey and/or PCCW is working on that you’re excited about?
I am always excited with the programs that both organizations have active and in their pipelines. They all enable community, giving back, diversity, equity and inclusion. I love both organizations.
What makes you feel most connected to Cornell while living in New Jersey?
Doing the greatest good that I can makes me feel the most connected.
Do you have a favorite class or extracurricular from your time at Cornell?
I studied all the time. However, I am thankful that I belonged to Kappa Delta Sorority, where I made lifelong friends.
Do you have a message for newly graduated alumni looking to volunteer?
Find your passion and use it to join a Cornell organization where you can thrive personally and give to others.