My journey to technology
Just wanted to talk a little about myself and how I entered the tech world. I'll be brief on my early life. Both my parents were born in Nicaragua, but due to the civil war they fled to the U.S. to give us what they believed to be better opportunities. They didn't exactly know how to do it, they just knew that we wouldn't have to worry about the violence and poverty their country was experiencing. My parents had moved to Honduras to get away from the civil war in Nicaragua and that is where two of my sisters and I were born. When we came to the U.S. I was only about 3 years old, so I don't have any memories of my time in Honduras. The earliest memories I can recall are living in our apartment in Sunnyvale and my grandma (my fathers mom) being there reading the newspaper. I was probably about 5 by this time. In school I did fine in most subjects I struggled a little in English, but was able to get through all my classes never failed a grade. We lived in the Bay Area until I was about 7 or 8. After the Bay Area my parents relocated us to the Central Valley. In elementary school we used the computer lab to play the famous Oregon Trail game. That is when I started to really like computers.
My parents eventually got a desktop computer for our house they used it because my dad was going to start his own loan company (at least I think that's why they bought it). My sisters and I used it to chat on different chat rooms meeting people from all around the world or at least we thought we were. We didn't know about predators or cat fishers at the time we were just young and having fun with a new technology. By this time I was probably like 11 or 12. Then later on came MySpace where everyone learned HTML and thought they were hackers lol.. MySpace gave a lot of people like myself the opportunity to ask questions about what technologies like HTML did. How they controlled or added content to web pages. I got really into photography for a while and bought a dslr camera I learned how to control the ISO, aperture and shutter speed all from YouTube videos and practice. I then started learning how to create my own website for free, that is what I searched when I was trying to build a website. Of course YouTube came to the rescue and showed me how to host and build the website. I has no idea what I was doing at the time, but I was learning what web developers do. I ended up using a photography hosting service because I needed to share photo libraries with clients, but the practice again peaked my interest. I began taking programming classes at the junior college and really, I mean really enjoyed them. At least the first couple I took. One of the very first classes was learning VBA the only girls in the class were myself and one other girl. We learned how to make those annoying popup windows with no exit button, we thought it was so cool at the time. My father later got really sick and I started to work a lot and put school off for a bit. When I went back to school I wanted to major in Electrical Engineer, but shortly after they closed the department down. I went back to the counselor and told her I was interested in Computer Science, but wasn't sure I would be able to get through all the math classes. Just note that I've always been very self conscious about myself not very confident so when the counselor suggested I change my major to something easier like computer graphics I did just that. I'm not saying it was all the counselor's fault I am really to blame because I allowed someone to let me believe I wasn't good enough. Life took it's course and I eventually was in and out of school transferring from one CSU to another and in the process I got pregnant. I had already suffered from a miscarriage so when I had a scare during my second pregnancy my doctor put me on bed rest. Oh by this time I was in my first semester at a new CSU majoring in I believe it was New Media.On our orientation day we met with the dean of the department we were majoring in and she told me, I probably wouldn't be able to make it through the program since I worked full time on days and most of the classes were during the day. It was discouraging, but I still move forward. I had one online class and one class on campus for the first semester. After I was put on bed rest I dropped the in campus class and just took the online class. After taking the course online I remembered a friend of mine had completed a fully online Computer Science program. I reached out to him and asked about the program. He sent me the information and I enrolled. One of the requirements was to have two CS classes which I had from years prior, but I sent my transcripts and waited. I was so excited to have been accepted to the program at CSU Monterey Bay.
This time I wasn't going to let anyone tell me I couldn't do it. Oh and let me just say this program has been AMAZING!!! I started the program in the beginning of 2017 and completed it by the end of 2018. I still needed to complete prerequisites that I never took so I am in my final semester now to get my degree in Computer Science. It feels so great knowing I've accomplished this not just for myself now, but for my daughter as well. I've also recently accepted my first programming job. It's sometimes unbelievable to see where I started and where I am today. What all this makes me think of is a quote by Mae Jemison that says “Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” If I can say one thing, it's that I eventually didn't limit myself, and one thing I do strive for is to not limit others because of my imagination. This year I also joined Google Developer Group and Women Techmakers. Women Techmakers has given me the opportunity to grow and learn so much about the gender gap in technology I've always felt it, but understanding it and be an advocate for women and girls in technology has made me value my experience so much more.