Irvington Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Amico


Nancy Zuo, Staff Writer

Michelle Amico graduated from Irvington’s class of 2010 and now lives in New York working in cybersecurity, offering ethical hacking solutions to tech companies. Though she loves her job, she had not always known what she wanted to do.

At Irvington, Michelle played softball, was on the gymnastic team, and played trumpet in the marching band and wind ensemble. She remembers being in Mr. Rodda’s band class, Mr. Phillips’ English class, and Mr. Kumar’s physics class. She was the Spanish Club Vice President, participated in Model UN, and We the People.

“I would say don’t get too bogged down with academics and there are many different interests that can STEM into a career choice,” said Amico. “Just because you like math, doesn’t mean you have to focus on math.”

Her extracurriculars activities and residence in the Bay Area played a role in influencing her career choice.

“Just being in the Bay Area made me more tech savvy and want to be in tech. Companies like Tesla, Google, and Facebook made me interested in having a job in tech,” said Amico.“Model UN influenced me and We the People drew [my] interest into national security.”

Though Michelle attended Hopkins Junior High School, she chose to come to Irvington rather than Mission San Jose through a magnet program because she believed that Irvington was much more well rounded. Likewise, the benchmark projects that are here at Irvington (and not Mission) have positively affected her career and gave her a head start in college.

“I think at first in the moment I hated [the benchmark projects] but now I think it really prepared me for life because now I do presentations all the time and the fact that I already had experience that had impact on people was really important,” said Amico. “When I talk to friends who do not have those skills, it made my life so much easier.”

The common “dream” school back then was also UCLA, and unfortunately Michelle got rejected. In the end, Michelle chose to attend Penn State for college after deciding between staying in at California UC Berkeley and UC Irvine or leaving for the east coast.

“It’s good to keep your options open. I made so many connections by choosing to go to Penn State instead of staying in California,” said Amico.”Going to college was difficult because of the culture shock after being in the West Coast, but it was the right choice. I [just] had to meet friends like I did after going to Irvington from Hopkins.”

The college process was stressful for Michelle, but manageable since she did essays relatively early.

“If you think [college applications] are hard, you should apply to Google and Facebook. They have crazy applications.”

Michelle believes that the most important skill not taught in school is money management: finances, learning to pay off student loans, and knowing how to invest money after making it.

Michelle still keeps in touch with high school friends regularly, and thinks it was relatively easy. Her only regrets from Irvington are not joining DECA, and not taking more AP classes to get college credit.

“I wish I took other classes. [If] AP Computer Science [was offered], I would have taken it.”