Chinasa, 21 – FUNDED

Women in STEM careers are underrepresented. That’s why it’s so important to spotlight young women pursuing this rapidly growing field. The 1,000 Dreams Fund partnered with HARMAN to find the next generation of innovators with our New Face of Tech Challenge in partnership with HARMAN. Chinasa is one of our winners! A senior at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, Chinasa is pursuing computer science and wants to inspire other young women — especially women of color — so that they can be represented in STEM.

What is your professional dream?

My professional dream is to become a professor of computer science and to work as an industry research/tech professional.

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

Being the New Face of Tech provides an opportunity for me to inspire future generations of women in computer science and other tech fields. As someone from a background that is not traditionally represented in tech, I hope that when young black girls see my face they know that a career in technology is indeed possible for them.

Women are underrepresented in STEM. How can we change this?

Majoring in computer science — a space usually reserved for white and Asian males — as a black woman gave me insight to the problems that minority students face and helped me realize that I have a passion for improving and innovating the way computer science is taught to students. I believe that negative stereotypes about computer science and other STEM fields being “men-only” have contributed to the lack of women present in these fields. Fortunately, the rise of programs dedicated to introducing young girls into programming such as BlackGirlsCode, combined with social media stories of women thriving in STEM, have given young girls and women alike the confidence to pursue and maintain STEM careers.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

When I first began taking computer science, I felt behind many of my peers who had completed AP Computer Science classes in high school and those who had been exposed to computer science topics throughout their childhood. Learning object-oriented programming topics such as polymorphism, recursion, and objects/classes was an eye-opening experience for me. I struggled a bit in my introductory courses, but with the help of online resources such as Khan Academy and in-person mentor sessions/study groups in my classes, I finally became comfortable with the subjects presented.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

Being organized is the number one thing that helps me stay motivated and focused on my goals! With the use of Google Calendar and note-keeping apps, I can ensure that everything I need to get done will get done on time. Thinking about what I want to achieve is a major motivator for me. Knowing that I still have a long way to go to reach my goals keeps me motivated and on the right path.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

Next school year I will begin applying to computer science PhD programs. Funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund will give me enough financial resources to pay for GRE testing fees, application fees and any other fees that may occur from this process such as flights for onsite interviews. This funding has relieved any worries that I had for the upcoming school year and will allow me to focus on the things I need to complete for a successful application season.