Black Girls CODE Presents #FutureTechBoss Series

Meet Charmienne Butterfield

It’s Black History Month and Black Girls CODE is thrilled to provide you a glimpse into the future through our #FutureTechBoss Series!

For the past seven years, Black Girls CODE has empowered girls of color all across the country to become future leaders, innovators, and creators in the technology ecosystem. This Black History Month, we are excited to give some of our Tech Divas an opportunity to share their stories with the world; to shine a light on their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the future via our #FUTURETECHBOSS campaign.

We hope this campaign will serve as motivation and empowerment for the future generation of tech divas and show the world that black girls code and do so much more. As we center our tech divas as #FUTURETECHBOSSES we give notice to the world that the future is on the horizon and our girls are ready to take the reins.

Meet Charmienne Butterfield, a 15-year-old high school student who has been coding since she was 7 years old, and aspiring NASA Astrophysicist!

Why Do you LOVE Black Girls CODE?

I’ve been with Black Girls Code since I was eight, I’m now 15. What I absolutely love about the organization is that it lets me know that I am not alone in my love for tech, or in my goals to one day work in the tech industry. It not only brings like-minded girls together, but also introduces us to women and men of color in the tech industry, who we can look up to, and know that there are others out there who also want to see that we succeed.

If you were a Superhero what powers would you have?

If I had a superpower, I think it would be being able to heal people. Not only heal them physically but mentally and emotionally. It doesn’t matter how hard someone works, the lack of physical, mental, or emotional health can stop them from reaching their goals.

What is your dream job?

I have many jobs I consider to be a dream job. One that I would really love would be to work at NASA as an Astrophysicist. I’d love to study the physics of the Cosmos and write computer programs that would further our knowledge about what really is out there beyond what we currently know.

Who would you consider your STEM Role Models?

I would say that two of my biggest role models are my brothers. We were each homeschooled, so I got the chance to see all that it really takes to reach your goals. To be able to work through your roadblocks no matter how large. My oldest brother just graduated from UC Santa Cruz and is working at the data company Looker. While he was a senior in college he met the founder of the company at a tech meet up. At that time the company didn’t have any internships that pertained to his field of study, but the founder was so impressed by him that he, the founder, created a summer internship for him, my brother. He spent the summer researching and working on an intense one-man project for the company. At the end of the internship, the founder was so impressed by the outcome of the project that my brother was one of only two people the company extended a job offer too.

My middle brother, Elijah, is my other role model. He is currently a Senior at UC Berkeley. He went into University wanting to major in Computer Science. During his freshman and sophomore year, he became involved with the UC Berkeley Food Collective, trying to help solve food scarcity among the students. He also began working for the Environment Center for Health. While doing these two things, he realized that he wanted to be more than just a computer engineer, he wanted to bring his knowledge and skills into the fight against poverty, social injustice, environmental causes, and educational causes. He has helped me to see that even if you are in the tech industry, that you need to see and to care more about the world around you, not just the world in front of you on a computer screen.

I know many others may have more well-known people as their inspirations, but I feel very lucky to be able to say that mine are two people that I love.

What does it mean to you to be a black girl who codes? Describe why the Black Girls CODE mission is important to you.

What it means to me to be a Black Girl who codes is to know that my interests in the tech industry are just as valid as anyone else’s. That I must acknowledge those who have gone before me, those who have made it a bit more easy for me to reach my goals. It is also important to know that I have to work hard to make it easier for those who may come after me. The Black Girls Code mission is important to me because it creates a safe place for me to learn, and grow. Black Girls Code makes it so that others can see that as black girls we are a force to be reckoned with.

What is one piece of advice you would give young girl interested in Tech

Do not give up. Do not listen to the naysayers who tell you that girls aren’t good at math or coding.

What is on your playlist right now?

Navigator by MOONZz, Somebody by The Chainsmokers, Into Dust by Paris Blohm, Be Happy by FRND, Walk Thru Fire by Vicetone, Lift Me From The Ground by San Holo

If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or deceased) who would it be and why?

If I could have dinner with three people I would choose Michelle Obama because she continues to be an inspiration to me. She’s not only an incredibly hard worker but when many were against her she showed nothing but dignity.

Josephine Baker. As a dancer, she is an inspiration. She led an extraordinary life going from poverty to one of the most famous dancers, singer, actresses in the world. She broke down color barriers and challenged others to do the same. On top of that she was not only a spy during WW2, but at the end showed the world that in order to thrive we must become excepting of one another.

Katherine Johnson. I really don’t know much about her before seeing the movie Hidden Genius, but after reading the book I found out just how amazing she is. She is my tech inspiration. She helps me to see that no matter what people say or think as long as you know that you can, you should.

What excites you?

Right now what excites me is learning sign language. It’s not the typical language class, but I am excited about getting to communicate with others.

What keeps you up at night?

Currently, the thing that keeps most teens awake. That being getting into college. Both my brother’s got accepted to UC Berkeley, so I worry about getting in to.

Favorite movie?

Imitation Game. It’s about the life of Alan Turing

What’s your signature quote/phrase/or saying?

If someone wrongs you and they realize their mistake, they can’t take it back. But if you don’t forgive them, then how does that make you any better than them? Forgiving brings them back on the right path, so they can’t make the same mistake again.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?

I love to sew. I like to make myself clothing and accessories.

Black Girls CODE is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology. For ways to stay involved and support, be sure to our Mailing List or make a donation!

Stay up-to-date with our Future Tech Boss Series on Twitter as well!