Gianna Gynelli Figueroa has been a great caretaker for the employees at Headstorm and also does free career counseling to college students and recent college graduates, said nominator Kenton Kirkpatrick of Alternative Biomedical Solutions. She also volunteers at Gateway Church and at Haltom Middle School.
“I love people,” Figueroa says. “That is why I choose to pursue a career in the world of human resources. I am extremely detail-oriented, which is why I think operations could be a good thing for me to get into down the road.”
She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington at 20, taking multiple courses per semester. “My last semester of college I took 26 hours while working three part-time jobs,” she said.
She earned an MBA from West Texas A&M University in 2020 and expects to finish a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Tyler in 2024.
“Gianna goes out of her way for her employees. She is a person of integrity. She practices what she preaches about human resources and focuses on the people behind the business. She completed a full-time master’s program while working full-time and still volunteering for another organization,” Kirkpatrick said.
“Her attitude, work ethic and kind spirit are all the reasons why she deserves to be honored in this way,” Kirkpatrick said.
– Paul K. Harral
Where did your first paycheck come from?
My first paycheck came from Gateway Church. I worked there as Service Supervisor until after I graduated college. I am now a volunteer in the children’s ministry for elementary-aged children. I love serving this community!
What movie, TV series, play or video game influenced you growing up?
My favorite TV series growing up was Kim Possible. The show is all about girl power and a young female saving the world. A play that shaped my upbringing was West Side Story and how it focused on the race war between Caucasians and Puerto Ricans (I am Puerto Rican). Ultimately this play me how your perspective on other cultures can make or break you as a person.
Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.
As cliché as it may sound, the most influential person in my life has been my mother. She is a wise person and has taught me the power of hard work. When my siblings and I were still growing up, she made the courageous decision to go back to school and pursue her bachelor’s degree. She did this while being a full-time mom and working several jobs.
Although it was hard, I never once heard her complain. She has led me from a young age in the ways of the Lord, which has shaped who I am. She has shown me that it is good to be a strong, confident, independent woman and that it is OK not always to feel that way. My mom is more than just a support system or a shoulder to cry on. She is brave, fierce, and hardworking, and she has instilled those values within me.
When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
I did not know until about three years ago. I did always know I wanted to influence individuals’ lives for the better and do something with purpose. I fell into recruiting and from there landed an amazing gig as a HR Manager at a software consulting company. I get to shape not only our policies but our culture and make our employees lives better.
What is your favorite song?
Don’t Rain On My Parade, Lea Michele (Glee Version)
Tell us about your photo shoot prop.
A Puerto Rican flag, representing the importance of my heritage and where I came from. I will also have a photo frame of the word declaration. This is something we say during each children’s service in every age group, I still say it in my day-to-day life as well. It comes from the book of Deuteronomy.