Lisa K., 29 – FUNDED

“Everything big starts little.” This quote from Nigerian minister T.B. Joshua encourages Lisa K. to persevere and take small steps toward her goals. “Greatness can emerge from humble beginnings; that is, through gradual, consistent, and diligent efforts,” she says.

This New Face of Tech winner is originally from Swaziland — Mbabane and Nhlangano, to be exact. She aspires to become a technical product manager and a tech role model for women of color and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in information management and systems, with a focus on product management, at the University of California, Berkeley.

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

It’s an exciting addition to my journey of being a tech role model for women of color. It not only represents an opportunity to empower myself, but also the community; as an advocate for education, I will continue to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM.

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

It’s important to introduce girls to STEAM subjects early on in their education to spark their interest and curiosity. Similarly, it is vital to showcase diverse women role models in STEAM that young girls can look up to. This visibility inspires girls and women alike to pursue STEAM careers.

Likewise, mentorship programs provide guidance and support, thereby enabling girls and women to persevere in their respective STEAM journeys. We need more organizations that give women the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

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

Coming from a non-technical background, navigating my programming classes initially seemed insurmountable. Talk about a steep learning curve. Looking back, I laugh when I remember that I used to mix Python and JavaScript syntax because I was learning these two coding languages concurrently.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

My love for learning fuels my motivation, making each step toward my goals an exciting opportunity for growth. Breaking down larger goals into manageable tasks is my strategy, which enables me to focus on achievable milestones.

I keep a physical planner; hence, the act of writing down tasks and deadlines provides a clear roadmap. Likewise, checking things off my to-do list is immensely satisfying.

Above all, God, my family, friends, and mentors serve as a strong support system, providing encouragement and guidance, which in turn helps keep me motivated and accountable.

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

The funding will provide crucial financial assistance for my education, helping me cover tuition. This will alleviate the financial burden associated with pursuing my professional master’s degree, allowing me to focus more on my academic and professional pursuits.