Naima Cooper, 22 – FUNDED

Naima Cooper’s dreams is to be a filmmaker and author. She recently wrapped up her undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill — a bachelor’s in education, where she focused on Human Development and Family Studies.

“This investment in me motivates me to pursue the dreams I’ve had since I was 12 and to share my gifts with the world,” says this New Face of Tech winner. “There are not many things better than that!”

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

It means I have the opportunity to use my voice and share it with the world and inspire other people who look like me to do the same.

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

We can make it easier for women to get into these industries by removing barriers like cost and making the education and resources to get into these industries more accessible for all people. We can also uplift, amplify, and support the women who are already in STEAM, so that other people like them can see it is possible to succeed as a woman in these industries.

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

I lost motivation to pursue my dreams of filmmaking and writing because I didn’t believe they were practical career choices. I didn’t believe I was capable of doing what was necessary to succeed. I didn’t have many connections in this industry. I didn’t know or see many women doing the things I wanted to do. I also currently have a lot of student loan debt as well as not a lot of my own money to invest in projects I want to make.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I get inspired by other people’s work and I try to connect with others who are doing similar things that I want to do — people who will consistently ask me what I’m working on, hold me accountable, and offer helpful feedback and perspectives. I also try to remind myself of why I want to do these things. The reason is because art helps people and it helps me. It is especially helpful to hear and see the voices and the work of historically marginalized groups.

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

Filmmaking is costly. Being able to create high-quality projects will only help my messages be received more clearly — and that’s my only goal.