Linda G., 19 – FUNDED

New Face of Tech winner Linda G. dreams of becoming the founder of a tech company to focus on solving the worldwide cybersecurity crisis. But, first, school! The first-year student at the University of California, Merced, is studying computer science and engineering.

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

Being a New Face of Tech is very empowering. Growing up, I never envisioned myself in a tech career and now I can’t see myself going into any other career. This really helps me be a role model for peers who I mentor as well as other students — specifically high schoolers — who might not feel like their dreams are possible. This really shows them that anything is possible!

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

From my experience, a lot of the things that happen in this field involve harassment and discrimination. There have been too many times these issues have been swept under the rug and we need to do something about it. The best way to tackle this issue is by creating a very welcoming and safe environment for everyone. Companies need to do more investigation of their workplace culture to understand where and why these problems are happening and ensure they stop. Fortunately, many companies have already started doing this!

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

I have been told many times that my career choice is either unrealistic, too difficult for me, or never going to happen. I wasn’t able to get much support, mainly because the majority of my family did not attend college, or even finish high school. I personally had to go out of my way to network and seek resources to help me build my dream — from the bottom up. I have taken advantage of many opportunities that I would have never obtained if it wasn’t for those I have met along the way and this is something I am truly grateful for.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

When I get discouraged, I always think about the reason I do everything — and that reason is both for my family and for myself. I know that I want to be able to help my mother provide for me and my two younger sisters. She’s a single mother, and seeing her work multiple jobs she disliked really saddened me. Fortunately, she’s currently working in places she enjoys, but she is unfortunately not making enough. I want to be able to give her a sense of security by helping her with income in the future. Additionally, I want to be able to work a job that I absolutely love, and the only way to make that possible is by achieving my goals to get there.

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

Getting an education is only the first step of my career and being named a New Face of Tech is going to help me finish my education. As of right now, I am covering the majority of my college expenses — mainly because of the fact that my family is financially unable to do so. This fund is going to allow me to focus more on my studies and less on financial burdens.