Friday, March 11, 2011

Wrapping up WIT Week at SQL University

It's been a great week at SQL University once again! Several prominent women in the SQL community have shared with us their love of technology, thanked those who have inspired them or showed them an opportunity and expressed a desire to mentor their daughters and other young women in their lives. With such a great resource of posts, I hope you have found inspiration, perhaps even renewed your inspiration, for your own role in the WIT community. Man or woman, you can make a difference in a young person's life!

My story isn't much different from others' - I had an opportunity to work with 'Basic' as a 7th grader (honestly, that didn't do it for me), and ended up working in PASCAL my Freshman year of High School (THAT was way cool!). However, it was my love of aeronautics which drove me to the Math and Science classes early on. Everything NASA and flight related made me smile and want to learn more. Alas, that path was not to be, but the inspiration laid a great foundation of research and logic methodologies.

A Few Good Men
Of course, there were great mentors along the way even though I never realized it until much later. One of the most influential was Col. Massie at the Academy of Math & Science. As the head of our Air Force Junior ROTC unit, he was instrumental in assuring I applied to quality Universities and pushed me to pursue an Electrical Engineering degree. Those of you who know me also know that didn't pan out so well either, but again, the experience of sitting in classroom after classroom of highly intelligent people (and they were ALL guys) was very valuable. What I learned the most at that time was that I still had quite a lot to learn if I was to keep up (much less compete) with kids who had grown up programming since they were 12 or 13 years old. My experience was limited to a few special labs and short sessions a handful of times in school. I was seriously behind the curve and it was both devastating and demoralizing - I quit. I gave up. I failed.

Fast forward several years, armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, I was once again ready to tackle the world. After a few jobs here and there, my love for things technical was still evident. I ended up taking a job with a technical training company and met another of my mentors - a fellow trainer who specialized in Lotus but was also a fantastic VB programmer. He taught me a lot about teaching programming to others and introduced me to Object Oriented methodology. Thanks, Bruce!

Paying It Forward
Now that I'm entrenched in a technical field and excited about what I do, I want to inspire others to find happiness in similar roles. Also, I want to inspire my kids to have a love of technology and science and math. Both of them: my daughter AND my son. Right now, my efforts are mostly limited to my own children and those of my friends. Plans in the future include working with either a local school group or maybe the Girls Scouts; I'm not really sure still. The important thing is to show young people that I'm in a career I enjoy, I make a pretty good salary and opportunities in my field are wide and varied.

To wrap up this week of inspiration, I leave you with a final assignment (don't worry, it should be easy!) I challenge you to share your enthusiasm with a child or group of children. It doesn't matter if they are your own, or those of friends, or a group of strangers. See if you can reach out and spark an interest in someone else and then please SHARE that experience with the community. Write a blog, or post something to your FaceBook account, whatever you find easiest. Whether you feel like it or not, YOU are a role model to others. Use it well!

1 comment:

  1. I volunteer in the Elementary Schools, teaching Junior Achievement to children. In a nutshell, it teaches children how a community works, how different jobs work together to make things happen, and how money moves. It is a great place to encourage children to follow whatever it is their heart tells them to do, because every job is important!

    JA is also very geared towards education, and encouraging children to do their best... Not exactly IT related, but you could use this as an opportunity to point out how IT professionals also interconnect in the community.

    It's great to see children becoming excited about all the possibilities their future holds!