Brenda – FUNDED

Brenda spent over a decade in the banking field when she realized she wanted to give back. A Mobile Development program student at Full Sail University, she’s one of our winners for our New Face of Tech Challenge in partnership with HARMAN. She looks forward to graduating in 2019 with her Bachelors of Science and finding ways to use financial tech to help those in need.

What is your professional dream?
I spent over a decade in the banking field. During this time I came to the realization that communities like the one I grew up in were extremely underbanked, credit challenged, and below the national poverty line. Although I was able to provide a much-needed service, I felt that I needed to make a greater social impact by representing and serving my community and others just like it. I have since resigned from my role in banking and have decided that design and mobile app development are going to be the tools necessary to initiate my involvement in financial tech (FinTech). I ultimately would love to offer my services to implement new technologies within the FinTech world where we would be able to serve the underbanked and credit challenged with alternative ways to improve and build their financial security.

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?
Being named one of the New Face of Tech winners was one of the greatest milestones I have encountered. It reaffirmed my choices in pursuing my education and career in tech. It also provided a sense of responsibility in demonstrating to other women that change is necessary, especially when you’re attempting to make an impact in your communities. It’s given me a platform and opportunity to network and strengthen relationships with other women in my field.

Women are underrepresented in STEM. How can we change this?
Women like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson have had an extraordinary women of impact in STEM but textbooks and history overall tend to lack details on their contributions. This is a major problem. We need to ensure that women are remembered for their contributions in STEM. Providing opportunities for education, networking and overall recognition is essential to the growth of female representation in STEM.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?
I have suffered from “impostor syndrome.” This has ultimately affected me greatly when first coming into my program and while networking with other STEM professionals. Impostor syndrome is a concept in which individuals are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” This is a real issue within the STEM community, particularly for individuals who are older and female. I’m currently learning to make my mark in this field and accept that I’m not under a microscope at all times. Self-acceptance and self-recognition are truly necessary in order to build the confidence needed to develop the career you want!

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?
I have a four-year-old son that depends on me. My success and my overall achievements are a major driver in being a great mother to him. I want to ensure that I illustrate the definition of academic and professional success for him.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?
The 1,000 Dreams Fund contributed to my tuition bills. It has also provided the opportunity to fund equipment that I needed to further build my skill set. Overall, it has allowed many opportunities, not just financial. I have been able to network and strengthen relationships that will assist in guiding me in the right direction in my field.