Women of Wednesday: Sasha Ariel Alston on Bringing STEM to Girls of Color

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

Sasha Ariel Alston, Author and STEM Activist, 19, DC and NYC

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

I am currently an Information Systems major and Marketing minor at Pace University in New York City. I am the author of the book Sasha Savvy Loves to Code. I’ve noticed that there aren’t enough girls involved in STEM-related activities, especially girls of color. Less than 1% of high school girls are even interested in pursuing a computer science degree. I think raising interest in STEM should be done at an early age. In STEM-related classes and clubs, there are always very few women. More women role models are definitely needed so I became one myself. In my book, the main character’s (Sasha Tech Savvy) mom is a software developer. She exposes Sasha Savvy to coding and Sasha goes to camp with her best friends to learn more. At the camp, women camp counselors and role models from the community speak to the girls. Hopefully, girls hearing from me, a teen, who likes fashion and music just like most of them but also thinks coding is cool, will make an impact.

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

I attended McKinley Technology High School in Washington DC, where all students have to choose an aspect of STEM for an academic track. I chose Technology based on me loving my iPhone and iPad. But I wasn’t truly interested until I had a Microsoft internship in the AthleTech Division my senior year, where coding was used to create a gaming app by my team. The internship was designed specifically to give students a real work experience. Since then, I’ve had six internships and just started my seventh.

As an Information Systems major, I have faced a few challenges in my coding courses. Coding requires a lot of focus, studying, and practice. Although, I knew the basics in Java, it was still very difficult to learn. It can be very frustrating. Sometimes, I’ve wanted to give up. I had to be very disciplined and determined.

3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

It would be great if everyone can spread the word about the book and give suggestions on what you think the next part to the series should be.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

Ordering the book on Amazon and submitting a review here!

5. What is your favorite quote?

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill.