Growing up, I spent a lot of energy trying to disguise my disability and blend in with my peers. I have always been fascinated by the way things work and gravitated to math and science courses where my learning disability was less of an obstacle.
I got more focused on my journey in STEM when I participated in the DO-IT Scholars program, a transition- to-college program for students with disabilities during high school. This experience was liberating! I finally had a peer group where I could talk openly about my disability, the struggles I have had, and strategies for success. During the program, I learned to advocate for myself, gained confidence about the prospect of going to college, and made lifelong friendships.
I come from a long line of engineers, so when I entered college, I knew I wanted to go into the sciences and found my calling in the information sciences. College was an opportunity for me to combine my diverse interests, a place where I could work on an Informatics degree and a minor in Dance. A great day included engaging in a morning ballet class, going to class and then spending the evening in the computer lab working on database projects.
One summer in high school, I spent a week working on a project in a virtual reality lab. What a great experience to be exposed to cutting edge research! I was able to continue working at the lab as a summer intern, and then later as part of an independent study course.
During college I participated in numerous internships, one taking me as far away as the World Bank in Washington DC. While I had to work really hard to keep up in college, these experiences helped me realize the differences between a classroom setting and a job. I gained confidence in my skill sets and the contributions I could make in the workplace.
My STEM journey really got going with my first job after college. I was working in a technology leadership rotation program at Washington Mutual Bank. Over the course of a year and a half, I worked in the core retail banking systems, commercial banking technologies and the enterprise data warehouse.
I now manage a data science team on the Amazon Web Services Fraud Prevention team and will be graduating in March 2019 with my MBA. At work, I use text-to-speech software to review my writing and assist in reading documents quickly. I am passionate about encouraging women and other minorities in STEM fields.