#winning: How Marquita Priester Made 2020 Her Year
Rounding out this year of turmoil and uncertainty, it was a breath of fresh air to catch up with A* member Marquita Priester on the positive note of her accomplishments in 2020.
Looking for inspiration? Look no further than the leaders, achievers, and go-getters that make up the /dev/color community. In the face of this year’s hardship, our members have persevered and thrived. To reignite our member spotlights, we spoke with Atlanta-based A*member Marquita Priester about how she turned the crises of 2020 into opportunities for #winning.
“Even though we had the quarantine this year, it ended up being a major blessing to me in a lot of ways,” Marquita remarks, “I could really work on a lot of personal growth and goals that I’ve had that I just was kinda afraid to tackle.”
The first major win she details is landing a new job with a significant pay increase — that wasn’t even on her radar! You know it’s meant to be when everything falls into place as this did. She tells us, “I ended up taking some branding courses for personal branding and randomly mentioned I was a software engineer, and then, lo and behold, there was a recruiter in there who reached out to me and literally everything about the interview process was smooth sailing.”
This win was the result of a happy coincidence, but don’t be fooled into thinking Marquita’s not one to put in the work. Outside of her full time job, she’s worked hard to establish her side hustles as full-fledged businesses.
One of these hustles — and she has many, including web design, app design, app development, and software consulting — is teaching. She taught her first series of courses in May, guiding her students in building their own websites.
She also devoted much of her time this year volunteering as a tech lead for the Atlanta chapter of Black Girls Code, an organization that empowers girls of color to become leaders and innovators in the STEM fields.
Marquita is using her skills and experience in mentorship to develop her own bootcamp, which, although not yet trademarked, she’s already been able to test-run. “I have a lot of friends and family members as well as people I came across through Black Girls Code who are interested in transitioning into software engineering,” she tells us, “and I was able…to be a support to them.” Her work-outside-of-work feeds into her ultimate goal of helping to increase the number of Black folks in tech. This initiative begins with addressing accessibility to tech-related information and resources. “My vision for the courses that I teach is that I can offer them for free. And that means I need to start finding grants, to be able to fund my time, so that way I’m able to give back to my community. Because that’s really my goal. If I can get more people in the Black community in tech… that would be my big dream.”
“My vision for the courses that I teach is that I can offer them for free… so that way I’m able to give back to my community. Because that’s really my goal. If I can get more people in the Black community in tech… that would be my big dream.”
Ever the Renaissance woman, Marquita also tells us of her wins outside of tech. This summer, she published two books: a faith-based journal called Consider Him Faithful, and Clean Slate, which she describes as her “life story about forgiveness.”
No way around it, Marquita is #winning. The determination and drive she’s used to accomplish everything she has this year is, admirably, all her. But she thanks /dev/color for providing the accountability she’s needed to see these wins through. “When I started this year I had plans, but…I honestly wasn’t pressed about finishing a lot of them,” she admits. “But then…we had our first squad meeting, and knowing that I had to enter all of these things into MajorKey, it was like, oh, I really need to do what I said I’m gonna do then! So it was the accountability that I got that really helped things to take off for me this year.”