Better Than Politics
A few days ago, I got an update from Jim Deters and team at Galvanize. We both share a desire to see more diversity in the tech industry.
Reading the update, I was transported into a new land of optimism and gratitude — away from the land of news polls and negativity.
A certain candidate would have you believe that many Latinos living in the U.S. are involved in crime and up to no good. Well, this paints a very different picture. One of self-motivation, of ambition, aspiration, hunger and progress.
We are not building walls. We are building hope.
Galvanize, through partners including Silicon Valley Bank, Google for Entrepreneurs and IBM, has awarded $303,500 in scholarships to 51 students from underrepresented groups in technology since January 1st this year.
Just in case your faith in humanity is too being tested, read this.
SVB’s own contribution allowed 12 people in San Francisco, Colorado and Seattle pursue a subsidized course in Web Development and Data Science. Here are some of their stories ….
Jory graduates in September. Prior to this, Jory was a barista.
I consider Galvanize one of these dreams. I am achieving the dream of becoming a well-skilled programmer. The dedication to whatever it is I am wanting to do is very important to me. I want to learn coding in an environment where I am surrounded by peers of different skill levels as well as mentors to help guide my learning experience. I feel that this environment is provided by Galvanize.
Ben graduated in June 2016 and is now employed @ FlowHub. Before this, Ben was a math teacher. When applying for the SVB Galvanize Latino/Latina scholarship, Ben wrote this pitch:
I spent the last 8 years teaching at-risk kids (in San Antonio, TX and in Denver, CO). I believe that my ability to reach kids in the their formative years makes me an excellent ambassador for Latino success. Prior to teaching, I was very involved in my church as a youth leader. I am passionate about kids and I want to be able to mentor students around me — get them into STEM programs — or, honestly, whatever they are interested in. Being a mathematician, I love the STEM fields but I just want to encourage kids to be passionate about something; whether it is STEM, the arts or something else. Our current educational system, with its focus on standardized testing, has taking the wonder and excitement out of learning. If kids are no longer experiencing wonder at school, it is up to us (adults) to bring it to them. I am a good Galvanize scholarship recipient because I am passionate about the success of our future generations.
Veronica was an account manager at PTS Heating and Cooling.
For me, learning to program has a lot in common with mountain biking. There is a struggle between fear and freedom. It can be intimidating; letting gravity pull you indiscriminately faster down paths, and you can’t see around a corner where scattered tree roots or huge drops could be waiting.
I stand in front of this new passage both frightened and invigorated. I am anxious to learn new skills and to continue to sculpt the current ones. Most of all, instead of merely being a traveler on this mountain, I want help forge new trails with others.
Peter will graduate in September. He was a Network Administrator at Rainbow Child Care Center.
I am applying to Galvanize, because I want to build a foundation that will allow me to build a career in programming. My wife is supporting this dream for me. She is planning to be the sole provider of my family. This includes a place to live in Denver, and child care for my 1 year old daughter. My wife is willing to live on a tight budget, so that I can follow a dream of mine. When I graduate Galvanize I will get a job as a developer. I will be an asset to whatever company I work for. I would like to work up to senior developer one day. I will make my wife proud.
Aspen was a teaching assistant at Haverford College. She graduated in April 2016 and is currently seeking employment. In her own words:
I am a Hispanic female. I have not let stereotypes keep me from being true to myself. I had few role models growing up: I didn’t see many people like me in respected roles in academia (or elsewhere). I believe this made it harder for me to decide what I wanted for myself, though it did not stifle my development.
I have the curiosity; I have the inner strength and the desire to learn. Now I have the skills too. I can be a role model for other students and professionals. With your help, I can see a long and rewarding career.
Bryce graduated in April and is currently seeking employment. He was a Math and Science Tutor at Red Rocks Community College.
I didn’t grow up in Guatemala. My neighbors growing up were from white lower middle class families. I don’t know what it really means to be Hispanic, but I do know that at times it has made me feel like an outsider. However, adversity can help us mature. I’d like to believe that by being of a different ethnic background than that of my peers, I’ve grown into a more empathetic person. In 2013, I was uncertain about my future. I had a passion for technology and business, but couldn’t figure out a career path. Around the same time, I took Stanford’s first ever online Artificial Intelligence course. That led me machine learning, and eventually to data science. What I like about data science is how statistics, machine learning, and computer science can be leveraged to have a direct impact on a company. This is what I am looking for in a career.
Sebastian has a background in Chemical Engineering in Oil & Gas and was an energy consultant when he enrolled.
I am self-taught in computer science. Because of this scholarship I can pursue novel and interesting projects rather than focusing on paying off my student loans. I did not have the opportunity to choose computer programming and data science in my education and career path. However, in every professional position, I have found ways to learn and apply these topics and have risen to be an expert among my peers. I want to make a mark”.
Status: Graduated. Currently job seeking. Here is Paolo’s story:
“As a child growing up in Brazil, I used to love math. It was magical — how I could use logic to figure out dimensions in a problem by using a king’s feet size and a simple cross-multiplication. I started to explore. After 15 years of theoretical medicine study, now I can bring change to millions of lives at a time, not one.
This path inspired me to start two small businesses that failed, and to travel to the Amazon to create social entrepreneurship classes for communities in need. I learned a lot. I joined a non-profit called Endeavor, which was my personal MBA. It gave me confidence to deal with the most successful CEOs with the highest growing companies in Brazil. Then I got a giant injection of ambition.
So, here I am. In San Francisco”.
Onofre will graduate in September. He was a legal advocate at Legal Aid Society of San Diego.
I believe in hard work and in the importance of education. When I moved from Mexico to the United States in 2003, my determination to succeed pushed me to work hard and to get the grades and the English skills to graduate from high school and attend college. As a new immigrant, I was completely confused and scared of the new school system and the culture, but I overcame my obstacles and was accepted to UC Santa Barbara in 2007. In college, I learned how to embrace diversity and also learned that school does not end after graduation.
After I successfully graduate Galvanize, I plan to volunteer at legal nonprofit organizations and help them build effective websites that can provide meaningful information to the public and eventually increase the number of individuals who can obtain legal services. One common problem at my current job is that the number of applicants for legal services exceeds the number of staff available to process the applications or scan them for accuracy. My goal is to find a solution to such common problems faced by organizations on a daily basis.