Outstanding Mathematics AlumKnight
UCF mathematics alumna, Dr. Aicha Elhor Gillespie, ’00, was honored as the UCF College of Sciences 2015 Mathematics Outstanding AlumKnight at the inaugural ceremony in February.
Dr. Gillespie credits her experience and education while earning her Ph.D. in mathematics at UCF for the foundation to pursue the next chapter of her life. “I am grateful for the department’s leadership, guidance and support,” Dr. Gillespie said.
Dr. Gillespie works at Citi as Senior Vice President of Citi Shared Services Global Reengineering. She is also actively involved in supporting women, giving to education and feeding the hungry. She currently serves as co-chair of the Citi Tampa Bay Site Women Network and Strategy, Reengineering and Reporting Global Employee Engagement Champion.
She previously served as co-chair of Nielsen Cares, sub-committee leader for International Women’s Day, and was a university recruiter. Dr. Gillespie has more than 17 years of professional and leadership experience and is fluent in three languages.
The UCF Mathematics Department nominated Dr. Gillespie for the award based on her passion for professional excellence and service to others.
Dr. Gillespie shared more on her time at UCF, her current position, and her advice to students and alumni.
Why did you choose UCF?
I chose UCF because of its strong mathematics program and relationships with local companies for hands on experience. Also, Dr. Peter Mikusinski, who was the department co-chair, inspired me by his leadership and commitment to graduate student success.
How has your degree helped you in your career?
Having a strong foundation in applied mathematics, engineering and technology enabled me to make a quantifiable impact on my career. The analytical skills to break through complex problems coupled with the knowledge on how to apply this in the business world have been valuable.
Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation? If so, how?
I am currently a member of the UCF Mathematics Department Advisory Board.
What is your best UCF memory?
My best UCF memory is the tight friendship that the mathematics graduate students had while supporting each other. We built great memories that we still talk about. Our weekly tea gatherings hosted by Dr. Marianna Pensky were a hit by bringing students together for networking opportunities. In addition to this, I met my husband at UCF.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about my job is working every day with diverse teams and contributing to making a global impact.
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
On my first day of my first job at one of the largest worldwide companies I worked for just out of college, I was tasked with a high profile project to develop a large database with a tight deadline. It was the most memorable experience. Not only did I need to get myself up to speed quickly on the programming language and learn the technical skills needed to do the job, but I also needed to maintain a fast pace learning about business processes, build relationships and establish my credibility. Looking back now, it actually was one of my most rewarding experiences. The project was delivered on time and with a good quality.
What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?
Believe in yourself. Don’t lose sight of setting and reviewing your goals and never be discouraged. Always remember challenges create opportunities. Regardless of how big or small the challenges are, we learn and grow so much by the way we handle them.
Dr. Gillespie answered some more questions in our “get-to-know-you” portion of the interview.
Do you have any special/hidden talents?
I consider cooking my special talent.
What do you do for fun?
Being a mom and being my kids’ biggest fan. I love attending their school events, watching them play sports and spending time together as a family during the weekend.
What is your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It has become a major tradition in my family. I host the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy company of my closest friends and family members.
What is your best birthday memory?
My best birthday memory is being able to spend the day at Saint Tropez in France with my best friends.