For my first story, I wanted to talk a little about myself…
I am originally from Douglasville, GA (about 30 minutes west of downtown Atlanta off of I-20), so yes, I am a “Georgia Peach”. I grew up in a lower middle class household and have no brothers or sisters. I am also a lefty (lefties rule!).
When I was around 8 years old, my dad bought our first desktop computer, it was running Microsoft 95 and costs about $1,000. I remember playing computer games all the time — more than watching TV. There’s a particular game that comes to mind when I think about those times and that’s Fury 3. I still remember in detail playing that game with my dad with a joystick. I used to LOVE joysticks — kind of wish they were still around (maybe they are hmmm).
Long story short — I fell in love quickly with the computer. When I was 10 years old, I was teaching my parents how to use it. I was then taking computer typing classes in school and learning Microsoft Office. I didn’t excel well in the typing classes cause I had already taught myself how to type but it wasn’t the “conventional” way. I think I even made a C in the class.
In high school, my sophomore year, I took a Computer Applications class and I remember teaching my teacher some things, respectfully of course. Back then, I was also burning CD’s in class to sell as a side hustle. As the years progressed, my typing improved, and even today I don’t type in the conventional way, but at least I don’t look at the keyboard much anymore. When I was a junior, I started building websites in a class I took called Web Design. They were very simple, basic plain HTML sites, that we created using just Notepad and a browser. So yes, I literally learned how to build websites from scratch. I still to this day can create fully dynamic websites by just using Notepad++. I just started using Visual Studio Code in place of Notepad++. Anyway — I quickly knew that I wanted to be a web developer when I grew up.
In 2008, I graduated high school and went to Georgia State that summer. I majored in Computer Science at GSU, and I struggled from the beginning. I took the Intro to CS class my first year and quickly realized that GSU had a crappy CS program. I took a few more classes to try and prove my theory wrong, but unfortunately, I was right. After taking Calculus I my second year and withdrawing before the midterm, I re-took the class the next semester. We weren’t allowed to use calculators and the trig parts of the exam tripped me up constantly. I ended up failing the class and one point short of passing. I went to the professor’s office and she showed me no mercy. By this point, I was sick of GSU, and wanted out. I started looking at schools in Florida, I applied to UCF and FAU. Both applications were denied due to my poor GPA (I failed two classes). I decided to apply to Kennesaw State, I got accepted, and changed my major to Information Systems. I quickly realized how much better KSU was for me, as well as for everyone. KSU had computers in all the classrooms, the professors were excellent, the culture and the closed campus really made the experience for me. It was a great school! I definitely miss attending and I encourage recent high school grads or anyone to attend there.
In May 2013, I graduated from KSU with my Bachelor’s of Science in Information Systems — after attending college for FIVE years with no summers off (except to attend an internship). I learned Java, .NET (ASP.NET & VB), and SQL in college, as well as accounting and some management classes.
My first job out of college was as a technical writer, it wasn’t until February 2015 that I landed my first software development job. After two short term jobs, and getting laid off at both, I found a great company to grow with. I stayed a year there, after having to leave due to poor management. Right now I am at a good company as a mid-level .NET developer and have been here over a year and a half. I say this to say that the struggle can be real and to NEVER give up hope. I am doing what I love and to think I have been building websites for over 10 years, is a statement, even for me. I have been a software developer for over 3 years. Sometimes I even have to take a step back and reflect because it is such an accomplishment. It has been an accomplishment, as a woman, to be a software developer, especially in .NET.
Last year, after TA’ing an Intro to SQL class with Girl Develop It, I decided to teach some of my non-technical co-workers SQL. We met once a week for about an hour for five weeks and I put together a PowerPoint for each week. At the end of the class, I created a SQL cheat sheet in Photoshop and passed one out to each of my “students”. They really enjoyed learning SQL. I think it’s important to give back and teach others. Currently, I am tutoring/teaching a 12 year old boy web development. He’s very smart and I am excited for his future — it’s going to be a lot different than my generation.
During some of my college and early in my career, I was married, and in October 2016 I got a divorce and threw a party (lol). That was one of the happiest days of my life and still trying to figure out if it was more happy than the day I graduated college — haha. I say that I have been through a lot — maybe not as much as others but I am proud of myself. I sometimes think we don’t give ourselves much credit. But we should — and pat ourselves on the back often. Celebrate ourselves and the people around us — cherish the people who support us and are there for us. That’s important.
I am not sure what’s next for me but I do know what I want to become a senior level developer. Right now I am learning Angular 5 and re-building an application in Angular with a .NET Web API in the back end. I like to take life a day at a time — sometimes being a software developer can be overwhelming. I try not to focus on too many technologies at once, and that’s my advice for fellow developers. Don’t get overwhelmed — just pick something you like and stick with it. Also, never give up! If I can do it — anyone can!
I also have to give credit to Women Who Code — I really enjoy being a member and being a part of the tribe per say. Also, the Atlanta .NET User Group that meets at the Microsoft Office at The Avalon.
Definitely get involved if you can! Developers rock!
When I am not working or coding, I enjoy spending time with my two dogs. I have a 3 year old boxer-pit mix named Rocky and a 1 year old pit named Hershey. I got Rocky when he was 6 weeks old from a really good friend that I grew up with back in D-ville in February 2015. Hershey came last June when a friend found him in McDonough, GA on the side of the road abandoned. He quickly became a part of the family.
I also love to run — I started running in 2011 — and have ran 2 marathons, 18 half marathons, and numerous other distances. I just completed my 5th Peachtree Road Race!
The beach is my other passion, you will see that if you ever visit my house lol. I grew up with Florida basically being my second home, as numerous other Georgians will feel the same way. I used to want to move there but right now I am content with vacationing there every few months. I am taking the dogs on their second trip to Florida this Labor Day weekend, can’t wait! Internationally, I have been to Mexico, The Grand Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Belize — and I’m trying to decide which tropical destination I’m going to hit up next!
I like to say I live a very full life, full with love, passion, and people. I love that I love my life and doing what I love. I don’t feel like I work because I love what I do everyday. I encourage everyone to do what they love, whatever it is. Live life to the fullest! Do you!
That’s all folks. Thanks for reading!