I recently watched the movie Black Panther and I admired Shuri, the Princess of Wakanda. She was the technological genius that was responsible for creating most of Wakanda's modern technology. Shuri was the epitome of true black girl magic. She was a super techie, smart and fashionable black girl. Seeing Shuri in Black Panther was super important for me because as a black girl that grew up in a suburban white space I've always felt like I didn't fit in with my peers. When I saw Shuri, I saw myself.
I come from a small suburb town in New Jersey that many people have never heard of. Growing up I was usually the tallest and the only black girl in most of my classes. I was a super creative honors student, that took Gifted & Talented art courses, loved hiphop, computers and was surrounded by teachers and students that didn't look or act like me. I also had a unique birthmark on my face which made me really stand out from my peers. I was different and I hated it. I just wanted to fit in and look like everyone else.
At the age of 13 I started playing basketball. At the time, I wasn't the most athletic person, but I stuck with it because I told myself if I worked hard enough I would be great like the amazing black women I watched in the WNBA. I later earned an athletic scholarship. #representationmatters
Now you might be wondering why I am babbling about Black Panther and my childhood. The reason being is because I've noticed that growing up, if I only saw someone that looked like me with the same pursuits, I would have felt more confident in my skin. Growing up I'd never felt like there was a place for me at the academia table, which is why I was lead to sports. I always knew I was smart, but I always felt like I wasn't smart enough due to my blackness and the medias ignorance.
This is why representation matters and this is why it is important for young black girls in the tech community. Pursuing a career in tech was never something I'd ever imagined. When I thought of tech I thought of super smart white males, but never someone that looked like myself.
I started my journey after reading a few coding books and utilizing Code Academy. After, college I had an internship where I had the opportunity to lead a website redesign for a global pharmaceutical company. Through intensive research and interviews I was able to present multiple wireframes of the mock site to my manager and our director. At this very moment I felt smart enough, I felt that my abilities were valid. I'd never led a big project like that before and that is when I decided that this is where I wanted to be. I decided I wanted to lead projects similar to the one at my internship. I wanted to be the one that wire framed the designs and utilized programming languages to create something dynamic and functional. This is when I decided I wanted to be a Full Stack Developer. #shecoded
And this is why I enrolled in the Rutgers Coding Bootcamp. I wanted to join a space where I could challenge myself as well as motivate young girls that looked like me. I wanted to be one of the faces in this important moment in history.I wanted to showcase that being different doesn't make you any less than great. I wanted to enable change and embrace the possibilities of being a black girl with a string of code and dream. #womenintech #womenwhocode