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Wynona L., 20 – FUNDED

“Think positive. Strive for excellence.” These words have always been at the back of Wynona L.’s mind since middle school. “Every opportunity that has come my way has been the result of that quote/associated mindset,” she says.

This New Face of Tech winner also has an entrepreneurial mindset and wants to be a founder. In the meantime, she is pursuing her B.S. degree in Data Science at DePaul University.

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

It means being recognized for my efforts to increase the number of not only women, but also diverse individuals in the STEAM field!

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

Research shows that this lack of women in STEAM really begins from the early-age teaching pipeline — the lack of mentors during elementary/middle school; the social pressure of not fitting in and being “nerdy”; and overall lack of knowledge about these fields.

To fix this, we need to start these steps during elementary school:

  1. Advertise the strength that comes from being math- and technology-savvy.
  2. Make it less intimidating and get more women math and CS teachers who are in tune with building a comfortable learning environment
  3. Continue encouraging women and educate them on the vast possibilities of STEAM.
  4. Help those who stick it out to get placed in high-level roles and/or start their own businesses.
  5. Remind those who have made it through this pipeline to give back and help more women get into STEAM.
  6. Inspire the new generation of change makers!

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

First: Lack of mentors — especially in even more male-dominated niche fields, such as fintech.

Second: Doubts in my competency, where colleagues judge my technical ability because of the negative connotations associated with being a woman.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I turn to my forever quote which leads to a certain mindset and intrinsic motivation (not external): “I want freedom and do not care what others think of me to get there.”

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

It will help me focus on high-growth opportunities while freeing up time for me to give back — instead of worrying about how I’ll be covering tuition!