Coloring the Tech Industry

Hello! My name is Rigoberto, but I go by Rigo. I was born in Michoacan, Mexico, but grew up in small agricultural city in California. When people think of Mexicans, they don’t think of someone like me. I’m 6'4" tall, I wear glasses, and have a beard. I love indie bands and beer as much as your stereotypical hipster. I received my bachelor’s degree in Communication Design at Cal State Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Don’t be surprised if you have never heard of it. It’s a relatively small school with an even smaller design program. However, the experiences I gained there helped get into my dream graduate program.

I recently moved to Seattle to pursue my master’s degree in Human Centered Design and Engineering at the U. of Washington. Prior to my move, I learned that my graduate program is only 2% African American, Latino, American Indian, and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Once I knew about the lack of people of color (POC) in the program, I started to research resources for Latinos in the tech industry. Turns out that there are not many. Latinos going into business, education, and other fields, have a fair amount of resources and scholarships available. In tech, most efforts are being placed into reaching out to minorities at an early age. Although that is a huge step forward, what about the ones who are already here? Tech companies are not looking hard enough. In fact, Latinos only make up about 4% of the employees in tech companies in the Silicon Valley.

The other night I watched Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari win an Emmy for their excellent show “Master of None”. The show itself depicts various characters of color for who they are, and not for the stereotypes that the media has created for their respective ethnicities over the years. Sure, Alan and Aziz are not Latinos, but they are POC and their achievement served as a reminder that diversity in is not only beautiful, but also a more accurate depiction of society. The current political climate is scary if your skin is not white. In a time where walls are being proposed to keep people like my family and I from finding their own version of the American Dream, I have been inspired to document my journey at UW. I do not have money to fund a scholarship, but I hope that my experiences inside and outside the classroom can inspire POC out there to pursue a career in tech, or to at least enjoy watching The National live despite being the only person of color in the crowd.

Follow my journey here or on Twitter: Rigo

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