What is your current role and where do you work?
I am currently an integration architect at 3M in Saint Paul, MN.
How did you get into tech?
I first went to college to be a doctor. After I got to college and began interning I soon shifted my focus to technology, specifically health technology (this is why interning is IMPORTANT). After that, I got a once in a lifetime opportunity to intern at The Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University, doing research on cyberknife radiation, which is a new cancer fighting technology. I have been all about health technology ever since.
What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
Anything that is healthcare based is my favorite. I currently work with a migration of databases right now, but if I had my way I would be doing research on different kinds of cancer fighting technologies. I once worked on radiation systems in pediatrics, and being around children who were fighting for their lives gave me a reason to do what I do everyday. Being able to connect people to the future is by far my favorite part.
What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
At this point I think I am most proud of the cyberknife radiation treatment that I worked with. It’s nice because not a lot of hospitals use it, it is really new. I got the opportunity to shadow neurologists to actually see how they implement the new technology and how effective it is with patients. Working on technology that is used to help cancer patients was just a different experience for me. It feels like like, “Wow I am really doing something meaningful.” It’s one thing to WANT to connect people to the future, it is another to actually take part in doing so.
What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
I would have to say immunology engineering is by far one of my favorite up and coming technologies that will make a big impact on healthcare within the next couple of years. It is a technology that enhances the immune system in order to prevent or treat diseases like cancer. The makers believe it will go further than autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and lupus (another disease I have worked closely with).
If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t working in tech, I would probably be working in politics. I spent nearly a year in Washington, DC and I just knew soon after I would be the next president of the U.S. I wouldn’t mind revisiting that idea in 3-4 years. I think that I could still make a big difference in the public health sector or by helping to regulate pharmaceutical companies.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
Everything you want is right on the other side of fear, and that if you don’t ask the answer will always be “no”. The tech space is difficult to really break into, especially as a woman of color. We only make up 2% of the space, and it’s hard to move up when the ones at the top don’t look like you. Sometimes you really do have to pull up a seat at a table where others think you don’t belong. Which is why I try my best to make sure I am encouraging other people of color and women to join the tech space. We need people like us not to diversify the workplace, but to diversify the future.
What can companies do to create more inclusive environments?
Be diligent about recruiting from the black community as well as black women. I know so many talented black men and women who would be great in this space, and they can’t get a job. All it takes is for a company to really WANT to recruit us, because the talent is there, I’ve seen it for myself. In order for a company to really recruit and include anyone, they have to want to.
What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
I am a avid reader and writer outside of work. I like trying new restaurants and going out for cocktails. I love a well made cocktail or a cold glass of sauvignon blanc. I am also a burger connoisseur, you usually can catch me with a burger in hand on the weekends. Another thing I like is makeup, I wish I had the time or patience to be a freelance makeup artist, but for now I’ll just stick with my own. I won’t even dare mention the shopping problem I have….
What’s next for you?
In the future I plan to move on and get my Ph.D in technology science and work for a company such as Medtronic which is a medical technology development company. My main goal is to empower people of color to join the tech force by cultivating relationships and being open to questions anyone may have about my journey.