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[Youth Speak] I don't mean to brag but... allow me to for a second

Being a teen is hard. Being a Black teen is even harder. Being a Black teen on the southside of Chicago… we’re merely trying to survive, and no I'm not exaggerating. Walking outside and finding trouble isn't hard to do. So with that being said Englewood Codes, Mr. Scott Steward, and Project Tech Teens was my way out.  

I tried out the Englewood Codes program, and from there an entire world opened for me. After my program ended, I stayed another year to served as an assistant with Mr. Steward, coding coach for Englewood Codes, and Founder of Project Tech Teens. This role provided me with visibility to onlookers: I received a job from Mr.Gunn, Teamwork Englewood Executive Director, to fix technical difficulties throughout the US Bank Building, where the TWE office is located. Over the years, the Teamwork Englewood community has embraced me and exposed me to various opportunities.  I was introduced to Coder Space, founded by Demond Drummer, a Teamwork Englewood alum. At Coder Space, I was able to learn various tech languages, construct websites, and work with developers who represented major companies, like Microsoft.

Being in these rooms, and finding that I was usually the only person of color, specifically only Black person, I started to dig a little deeper. From my research, there are many opportunities in the world of tech, and there are so many people, like me, who are unaware of the possibilities. I wanted nothing more than for people, who looked like me, to know about this lucrative world of endless possibilities, to be involved, and to take advantage.

There are times when I am delivering a presentation in a room full of professionals. I am usually the only woman of color, and the youngest. You can clearly see the looks on their faces; as if they’re waiting for me to fail.  I want to see more of me in that room so badly. After Coder Space, I took the skills i learned, applied them to my school work, and other opportunities came along the way.  It’s hard to choose my proudest moment, but a favorite of mine is when I founded and taught my school’s first ever after school coding class. I couldn’t have imagined this in my wildest dreams.

Let’s not forget that I have been a full time student this entire time. I was able to juggle school, ranked among the top 15 students in my class, and compete in sports as the running team captain for varsity soccer. I applied to 20 colleges and received a total of 11 acceptances, one being an Ivy League. Combining my love of both art, technology, and being a self proclaimed art junkie, I decided to attend Howard University, class of 2021, for the Fall 2017 semester. For the summer,  I’m working as a Junior Graphic Designer for Diversity MBA magazine, and for “Step Up”. I just received another job offer with Quake Tech, I hope I have time!  

I want to be someone's inspiration, showing them that there is hope for kids like me. I'm going to send a special message for past, current, and future Englewood Codes participants:

“In the beginning, it may seem confusing, but take these skills you acquire, the speeches Mr. Steward shares, and own them. Take your future and make it as amazing as possible. So with these odds stacked against us, and getting the short end of the stick, you dang right, you better brag! You deserve it.”                 

 

 

   




Posted in Youth Programs, News, Englewood Codes