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Rachel Fazio
Rachel Fazio

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It's #wecoded and I am very happy to be here

Hey, I am Rachel and this is the first WeCoded I have participated in because I only began my account a bit ago when I joined the Forem/DEV team as our Content Creator in November! I am a non-programmer-ish, in that I am very much a newbie at coding, but can get by in a lot of rudimentary languages + mechanical engineering, though my main experience is graphic design/UX design.

I guess I am making this article to both support what a wonderful event this is and also to talk a bit about my experience as a designer who hopes to dabble in coding. I hope y’all enjoy, this is the first personal article I have made on here so I feel vulnerable!!!

Part 1: Becoming a Designer

I decided I wanted to be a designer when I was a freshman in college and was super excited to apply to get into the program at my school and… was ultimately denied a spot. I had had a lot of mental health issues leading up to the final exam and when we got there, I was not given proper accommodations that coincided with my disability accommodations at the school for my neurodivergency, which ultimately resulted in me not getting in. It sucked. It broke my heart but since I knew it was what I wanted to pursue, I pushed on and tried again the next year.

I got in the following year, after being told by my disability advisor to not try again because students with disabilities/neurodivergencies have a higher chance of leaving the program or being kicked out due to how physically/mentally demanding design can be. I was so proud of myself and still am, and pushed on.

Part 2: Deciding This Wasn't Right

Though, as I continued in the program, I realized how right my advisor had been. No matter how excited I was about this field, the class structure was not built in a way to support my needs as a student, and I started struggling. I pushed myself extremely hard until I burnt out fully and ended up resenting the field I had spent my whole life dreaming about.

I graduated feeling a bit sideways and confused, trying to apply for design jobs but ultimately just needing a break. I moved back to California to be with my family and to figure out the next steps. I had always dreamed of being a teacher when I was elderly and full of wisdom, and thought now might be a great time to try it out, so I started to work at a private school near my hometown.

Part 3: Becoming a Teacher

I LOVED TEACHING. My students were primarily neurodivergent/queer + trans kids who I related to, and who were so excited about the world around them and delving into art. I set off to teach a bunch of classes in different fields from art, design, animation, English, health, life skills, and history. Watching my students be excited to learn and push through when life was giving them hell made me so excited to teach them. I had lovely experiences as a teacher, especially with my trans and nonbinary students, as I am also nonbinary and I got to see them SO excited to have a teacher who saw them + gendered them properly.

While teaching, I realized I was itching to exert myself creatively again for the first time in a long time, after being super inspired by the excitement of my students. Though, while working there, I experienced a lot of friction with my nonbinary-ness, and wasn’t able to express myself safely and comfortably. It made me feel super small.

Part 4: Becoming a Designer (AGAIN)

I used my energy to carve out my own space, and ended up starting my own illustration/print-making business and began selling screen-printed clothing at flea markets in the greater LA area. I soon realized I was working two full-time jobs, one at the school and one at home, and was having way more fun creating art by myself. I realized that as I had been avoiding design, I subconsciously came right back to it and was itching to start up again. I had no idea I would come back to it, but am super happy I did.

I soon after applied to work at Forem/DEV, got the job, and ended up right back where I started, pursuing design!

Part 5: Here Now!

All in all, I had pictured for a while that I would have to switch occupations, make myself smaller, or be unable to pursue the field that I wanted to because of my nonbinary-ness and my neurodivergence. I thought I wouldn’t be able to find a job/career that supported me fully and felt down on my luck for a while, and once I got here I was accepted with open arms.

I am super grateful for the things I have learned, and to all of y’all out there who may be experiencing different things or not told that you shouldn’t pursue something you really want to, GO FOR IT. Know when to listen to yourself and no one else, and push for the things you believe in.

(Also side note– representation matters, neurodivergency matters, accommodations matter! Happy #wecoded!)

Love y’all and happy coding,
Rachel :-)

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Top comments (2)

renancferro profile image
Renan Ferro

Hey Rachel, how are you?!

Your article is really cool and you can see/understand a little more about your paths. is really wonderful, especially when we have these really cool and interesting events.

I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am, and if you need anything just look for me :)

vchinnick profile image
Vickie Chinnick

This is a really inspiring article. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and post this. For some of us, there's never really an "easy" path, and the slog of making it through things that others find commonplace can really weigh on one's self. You've really brightened my morning and inspired me to keep working hard for myself because we can succeed too! Thank you again!