I wouldn't be who I am today without the lasting impact that certain mentors had on me throughout my life. Although I come from a place of privilege, I still believe that having access to empathetic, passionate teachers can completely change the course of a child's life.
I believe that every child (and adult) in the world deserves access to a good education so they can elevate themselves beyond their starting block - whatever that may look like.
I've spent two school years working and volunteering with Microsoft's TEALS philanthropy, which aims to provide teaching staff and curricula to high schools that want to teach computer science but don't have the resources.
I was lucky enough to work with the Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy while I was based in Atlanta, GA in 2016, and then with El Camino High School in South San Francisco, CA during the 2018-2019 school year.
In March of 2018 I traveled to Austin, TX for the SXSW EDU conference. I went as a software engineer by trade, hoping to understand how I could use my skills and entrepreneurial mindset to affect the education industry.
Instead, I learned that not every school is looking for a Silicon Valley Savior (20-something techies with no classroom experience) to swoop down and "fix" their problems. Since then, I've been reading books on education theory, teacher education, and pedagogy to try and understand how I can still be a force for good in a space I care deeply about.
As someone who can have trouble taking a side-project past that 80% completion hurdle, I gravitate towards the idea of an ephemeral innovative space that allows you to fully engage in the act of creation within a well-defined time frame.
Hackathons have been a huge part of my technical life: both while I was in university as well as in my professional career.
I was a co-founder and 2x lead director of Swamphacks at my alma mater the University of Florida. It remains one of the biggest points of pride in my life to have ushered in an event that engages so many students year after year. Now in its 6th iteration, Swamphacks regularly sees 600+ participants from all over the country.
I was also able to help bring a hackathon to Twitch's annual TwitchCon North America, helping to bolster the ecosystem of community developers on the platform as well as spurring the creation of new Twitch Extensions.
My team has put on this event at three consecutive TwitchCons, bringing an average of 100 external developers to build with us each year.
As a lifelong gamer and someone who has many formative friendships and memories that center around gaming, it has been a super exciting experience to enter the industry while working with Twitch.
I think one of the biggest strengths of modern gaming (and a strength it's always had) is the ability to bring people together from around the world in an experience that can easily transcend languages.
The next way to watch and play together is now on Twitch.— Twitch (@Twitch) March 27, 2019
Squad stream is available today. Use the “Squad Stream” tag to see who’s live now. If you’re a Partner, you can squad up right from the dashboard. Learn more: https://t.co/HdB373Ayb5 pic.twitter.com/FxNhw70pq8
Working on the Squad Stream project at Twitch helped highlight this experience of building a community around games. It allows up to four broadcasters to share the same visual space on a stream and play games alongside each other. To date, it's one of the online products I am most proud of implementing.