HOW HAS IGNITE INSPIRED YOU?
IGNITE has inspired me to take every opportunity I get to learn about technology and share my experience with my friends to encourage them to try and do the same. After attending a panel of women in technology, I not only heard their stories of hard work and dedication, but got introduced to IGNITE. It made me realize that there were people who were passionate about giving young girls opportunities to explore coding, robotics, and engineering and taught me the importance of diversity. So now I tell my friends to keep an open mind when they see a chance to learn about STEM. I also try to break their misconceptions that they have, such as having to commit to being a coder to learn to code. It’s really about the learning experience and it goes beyond numbers and computers.
WHY DO YOU THINK IGNITE HAS IMPACTED THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT A CAREER CHOICE?
I used to be unsure about whether I wanted to enter into the computer science field because I did not know if I could stay interested or commit myself to coding for the rest of my life. My decision was quickly resolved after more exposure to women who coded and worked in the technology field through a camp called DigiGirlz. Not only could I see people who had the same uncertainties as me when they were my age, but I saw that it was possible for me to embrace computer science as the career I wanted to pursue. I learned that coding was more than sitting in a chair for hours and that it was more than meticulous lines of text. Coding was a way to create an experience that could include all types of people. The idea of inclusive technology resonated with me and IGNITE allowed me to gain the confidence to believe I can dedicate my time and education to learn to program to help others.
HOW HAS IGNITE IMPACTED YOUR CHOICES ABOUT WHAT CLASSES TO TAKE? OR ABOUT SCHOOL IN GENERAL?
I already knew computer science was going to be challenging because it is extremely competitive, especially in universities. However, IGNITE helped me realize it is worth the struggle and effort to push what I think I am capable of. So I decided to do a high school program called Running Start and attend a community college where I could take computer science classes and pursue an associates degree. I had two choices. One was an Emphasis in Computer Science, which is easier and less likely to get me accepted into the computer science department at UW Seattle and the other was an Associates of Science, which is more difficult and math heavy. At that moment I remembered that nothing worth having is ever easy to get, so I chose to get an Associates of Science. Without IGNITE, I would have chosen the easy route. Thankfully, I was able to choose my classes and degree without hesitation because I had the privilege to meet successful women who also worked hard to be where they are today.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE IGNITE PROGRAM?
I am incredibly grateful that I was able to be a part of IGNITE and attend events they set up for girls who want to code, build, and create a future for themselves in STEM. IGNITE has taught me that the worst thing someone could say is ‘No’ and I shouldn’t let that stop me, nor should I stop myself because I am too scared to fail. There are people who want to help and give girls a chance to strive and succeed, which made me realize that I am not alone. I hope for more girls at my school to know more about IGNITE because it goes beyond teaching them about career paths, it gives them an experience of empowerment and self-discovery.