|Gk-12: January 2014 – Present
|Ywic: August 2009 – December 2013
“Young Women in Computing (YWiC) is an outreach initiative developed with the vision to increase the participation in computer science activities and exposure for all students in New Mexico. YWiC is housed in the Department of Computer Science at New Mexico State University and focuses on multidimensional program components such as in-school presentations, after-school programming, summer programs, state-wide competitions, social networking, forums and conferences, plus teacher-program collaborations that will leverage the available resources across opportunities.”
Undergraduate Research Assistant – YWiC
Numbers That Matter.
Over the course of its now 7-year lifespan, YWiC has grown and matured to be a huge success and has reached over 7,000 students in New Mexico. Among other awesome statistics, YWiC proud to boast that the YWiC alum who have graduate high school have a 100% matriculation rate into a 4-year institution. Now that is impact.
I joined the YWiC team in the fall of 2009, and my favorite part of the day is helping students realize their potential. In the 2010-2011 school year YWiC reached a total of 1956 students, which was a 430% increase in the number of students that had been reached the previous year (455).
Since then, YWiC has seen a steady increase of students reached per year, and as long as I have been part of the team, I’ve been determined to get more women into computer science.
My History With YWiC
My first interaction with YWiC was in high school. In the summer 2008, I attended the 5-week YWiC summer camp, and it completely changed my career plan. The YWiC curriculum was perfectly tailored to our level, and offered the right balance of challenging and easy-to-understand material. The best part was that I was able to take the concepts we learned in lecture and create something that was all my own. I felt empowered.
When school came around in the fall, I decided that I wanted to take a programming class. Out of the 30 students in the class, there were only 2 women, including me. It was very uncomfortable, and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that computer science might be a “boy thing”. I really enjoyed learning Java, my first programming language, and I always wondered why there weren’t more women taking that class.
In Summer 2009, I participated in the YWiC summer camp again, except this time, I returned as a camp assistant. My job was to attend lectures and help answer camper questions during open lab sessions, and to plan fun team-building events. Even though I was not a camp instructor, I was a near peer, and I was still able to make a difference. My passion for computer science, solving problems, and helping others really stood out to the YWiC staff and I was offered a position as a Undergraduate Research Assistant in Fall 2009.
I was an Undergraduate Research Assistant for four and a half years. Over the course of each year I gave presentations, conducted workshops, planned and developed curricula, compile research, traveled to conferences, presented posters, and more, but my favorite part was inspiring students. For me, it was about giving back and leading by example to help students gain the confidence to know that they can do great things with Computer Science too!