Meet Grace Hopper, Siemens Technical Scholar Heather Monatt

Green River College student, Grace Hopper Scholar, Siemens Technical Scholar Heather Monatt

Meet Green River College student, Grace Hopper Scholar, and Siemens Technical Scholar Heather Monatt. With a background in Film and Media Studies, Monatt decided on a career change by enrolling in Green River’s applied baccalaureate program in Software Development. In addition to landing a scholarship to participate in this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, she also recently received an Excellence and Equity Community College STEM scholarship made possible by The Aspen Institute and Siemens Foundation. In the Q and A below, Monatt talks about her journey in tech and reflects on her Grace Hopper experience.

First off, what led you to Green River’s Software Development program?

HEATHER: I was taking classes online and had a terrible experience because the school was based in Florida and the time difference/professor availability made it truly difficult to be successful, not to mention the amount of money I was paying, so I decided to look for better options when I moved to Washington from Los Angeles.

Having gone to a junior college for my general education in pursuit of my first Bachelor’s while in California, I knew that there must be a cheaper price for a quality education somewhere. Enter Green River College and their Software Development program. I had read reviews and was sold at the fact that it was a young program that offered a Bachelor’s degree at the price point of a 2-year college and worked hard at supporting and promoting women in STEM careers. I haven’t looked back since and I am SO GLAD I made the move and settled on GRC. Go GATORS! 😄

Can you tell us about your Grace Hopper scholarship? What does it mean to you being a GHC student scholar?

HEATHER: The Grace Hopper Scholarship is truly in a league of its own! It offers many valuable resources to women to learn more about tech, to network, and discover other ways in furthering her career in STEM at a week-long conference. The scholarship included exclusive scholars-only professional development workshops, career trainings, mentorships, and virtual networking opportunities with peers and Grace Hopper Celebration sponsors such as LinkedIn, Google, Apple, and Facebook(to name a few), as well as a free one-year AnitaB.org membership.

30,000+ women from around the world come together in one place to support one another, learn, grow, and be inspired. It is a golden opportunity to be empowered and encouraged to shatter the glass ceiling of the tech industry, not only for myself as a woman, but for future generations as well.

This year’s GHC was different than previous conferences due to COVID19. Can you tell us about your conference experience?

HEATHER: Despite COVID19 throwing a monkey wrench in this year’s events, the people behind the scenes at Grace Hopper truly did the best that they could, given the circumstances. To be honest, I would not want their job this year. They really pulled it together though in a short period of time. Yes, it was a little disappointing as far as making genuine connections with peers, since it is VERY difficult to network virtually. However, they made the conference very accessible and kept us all updated through Slack and answered our questions with Zoom meetings leading up to the event.

What was great was that most of the workshops, sessions, and keynote speakers were recorded, so that we can go back and re-live some awesome moments or watch sessions that we may have missed. One unfortunate thing was that the career fair was postponed until sometime before the end of the year. The career fair is one of the biggest highlights of the event, so many folks were saddened by this, myself included. But, it’s only postponed, not cancelled.

What was one of your top learning takeaways from attending the GHC?

HEATHER: This year’s theme was Together We Build. Grace Hopper had once said, “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that.” Marian Croak, VP of Engineering at Google was one of the keynote speakers and said, “If you want to change things you have to be comfortable with being on the edge.” Both of these powerful women bravely set out on their journeys to make changes and have led the path for future generations of women to experience equitable opportunities. It was their call to action.

That really hit me in the sense that as a woman, there are so many barriers that we must still overcome, but attending the Grace Hopper Celebration made me realize that I’m (we are) not alone in making changes to the industry and in doing things differently, and these making changes, we are inherently living on the edge. There is a support system that will rise to new heights because, together we build.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in applying for a GHC scholarship next year?

HEATHER: YES! DO IT! APPLY! It is an amazing opportunity to learn and network with countless resources. It is empowering and brings forth a huge sense community for women in an industry that is male dominated. We need more women in tech encouraging each other, helping each other, and investing their time in crusading for equitable opportunities now and for the future. As mentioned before Together We Build!

Learn more about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing by visiting https://ghc.anitab.org/.

Learn more about Green River College’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Software Development by visiting www.greenriver.edu/software.

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