The Pivot to Civic
STEM Education Advocate and Former Computer Programmer, Jacky Rosen, Runs For Senate
As a psychology student at the University of Minnesota, Jacky Rosen had the opportunity to be a research assistant and work in the math department. She was assigned to process raw data for a case study, and from there, she would build upon her tech skills and explore her curiosity with computers. After she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, she moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to start her first post-grad job with Summa Corporation (part of the Howard Hughes Corporation) and jumped into a career in computer programming. While she was building her tech skills she worked weekends as a banquet waitress in Las Vegas to help make ends meet.
“I’m driven by the challenge of making things work fast. I truly enjoy seeing the elegant solutions that come from writing good code.”
While starting her career in technology in the 1980s, Jacky fell in love with programming. The analytical thinking and problem solving kept her interested, while she was learning to code in COBOL, Assembler, PL/1 and working on IBM mainframes. Jacky enrolled at Clark County Community College (now the College of Southern Nevada) to earn an Associate’s degree in Computing & Information Technology in order to enhance her skills.
Jacky went on to work as a software developer and systems analyst for other big companies in Southern Nevada, Citibank and Southwest Gas. After that she continued her career in tech as an independent consultant. During the early 2000s, Jacky stepped back from her career to raise her daughter and take care of her elderly parents and in-laws. Reflecting on her path, she saw how each experience contributed to her family values and her life plans. Persistence was essential during this time of her life, in both her personal goals and professional goals. Those values combined with her desire to solve problems led her to eventually step up as a leader in her local community and then decide to run for Congress.
“I try to tell people, especially young girls, life isn’t linear. You’re more than that one-page resume that you put into proper bullet points. Maybe you took care of your parents, your friends or children with special needs. All those things inform who you are.”
When it comes to what she’s most proud of building, numerous projects come to mind, from designing an inventory system for airplane mechanics at Summa Corporation to helping overhaul the computer infrastructure at Southwest Gas. Jacky takes pride in the work she has done to help these large businesses operate in smarter ways, streamline departments, and be more efficient.
However, beyond the technical work, she’s most proud of her impact on the STEM industry itself. While acknowledging how male-dominated the technology field is, she believes the work is rewarding. Jacky encourages more young girls to study STEM subjects and have the option to choose alternative career paths.
Jacky continues to advance the industry now through a program her office started to raise the profile of women in STEM in Nevada. That passion extends beyond Nevada and can be seen in the ‘Code Like a Girl Act’ she sponsored to provide more funding for computer science education for girls. In the U.S. House of Representatives, she also serves as member of the Space, Science and Technology Committee, which is responsible for the research and development decisions for non-defensive agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). More than ever, the nation needs more women voices in the government. Currently there are 21 women in the U.S. Senate out of 100 members. Just one engineer is represented in the U.S. Senate, none are women.
“Be persistent, and don’t adjust your goals or aim for less. It’s common for women to face more challenges than men in many ways — your qualifications get questioned more often, or your experience gets dismissed,” Jacky says.
“But the wave of women who are stepping up to run in Nevada and across the country in 2018 is incredible and inspiring to me, and I hope more women from different backgrounds will consider taking their advocacy and community involvement a step further by running for office.”
“What I really want to tell everyone, the most important thing all of us can do is exercise that precious right to vote.”
We couldn’t agree more. Please vote this November!
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