My journey as a computer scientist began around the time I entered high school. I had been interested in computers from a young age, but it was around this time that I began to learn to program a computer.
When I started college, I chose computer science (CS) as a major. I think I was the first blind CS major at Binghamton University, and I quickly came to realize that each semester would bring new challenges for making courses accessible. I am totally blind and also hearing impaired; I wear two cochlear implants. Luckily, the Services for Students with Disabilities office assisted in overcoming these challenges; for example, they purchased an embosser capable of printing braille and raised line diagrams. These diagrams allowed me to access the visual aspects of my courses, such as graphs in math courses and circuit diagrams in computer hardware courses.
Soon after I started my first semester, several friends and I launched RS Games, an online gaming network that allows blind players to engage in a variety of board and card games against players from all over the world. The games quickly became wildly popular in the blind community. It was, and still is, an amazing feeling when the code I write has a positive impact on people’s lives. Working on RS Games solidified my interest in computer science.
My journey continued with an internship at Amazon on the textbook rentals team. That summer, Amazon launched textbook rentals, and I helped make the launch possible by developing the system that dispatched reminder emails to customers. It was awesome to be a part of the launch of a new project that would be used by college students all over the country. I enjoyed the challenges of working at Amazon, so when I was offered a full time position at the end of my internship, I accepted.
After I graduated from Binghamton, I moved to Seattle to begin work at Amazon as a software development engineer. At work, I use the NVDA screen reader, which reads the text on the screen out loud and allows me to navigate using the keyboard. I travel independently with the help of my guide dog, a yellow Labrador named Delta.
I do not know where my career as a software developer will lead me. I intend to take things one day at a time, learning as much as I can and improving my skills. I am excited for how my career will allow me to be a part of bringing about improvements that will have a positive impact on the lives of many people for years to come.