Mikayla Tillery, 18 – FUNDED

Mikayla Tillery knows that “it takes a village.” And she feels so blessed to be supported by organizations like 1,000 Dreams Fund because it makes following her dreams financially feasible. She’s planning on pursuing public policy at Stanford University with a computer science minor. Mikayla says that being a New Face of Tech has validated her desire to pursue this route; she wants to create national and international tech policy to address cybercrime in this new and changing digital era.

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

It is huge to have so many incredible young women represented in tech. I hope that this only increases the momentum.

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

It’s more important than ever to create spaces for women to excel in STEAM without the obstacles that presently come with pursuing a male-dominated field. In my opinion, if we incentivize women taking leadership roles in STEAM, this can empower the next generation to create the change we want to see.

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

A lot of my challenges have come at the intersection of being Black and a woman. For me, a huge obstacle has been the lack of representation of Black women in STEM. Without seeing people who look like you in STEM, it makes STEM seem unattainable. Thankfully, I have had an excellent support system and wonderful role models along the way.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

My motto when it comes to goals is “you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” This has allowed me to practice prioritization of goals while still aiming for the unprecedented and unimaginable.

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

I wish I could be more poetic than this, but it boils down to three words: College is expensive. Attending Stanford has always and forever been my dream, and this opportunity brings me one step closer to going to the school of my dreams debt-free.