Highlighting Majoring in the Minorities
Awareness, exposure, and mentorship make a huge difference in inspiring high school students to consider future careers in technology. Unfortunately, many kids do not personally know an adult who has experience as a software engineer, UX/UI designer, or cybersecurity specialist, nor do they understand how to navigate the paths to such careers.
Enter WiCyS, a national organization with a mission to recruit, retain, and advance women in cybersecurity, and Club Ability, a STEM education organization focusing on helping young people in racial and ethnic minorities and those with special needs contribute their talents to the field of computer science.
In November, WiCyS Utah and Club Ability organized Majoring in the Minorities, an event that focused on exposing kids to real-life technology solutions, opportunities, and personal connections. The conference began with speakers sharing their experience and path to a tech career, then participants learned about a simple programming language to introduce them to coding. The attendees then split into groups for a hands-on workshop.
“We had the students workshop a UX-designed app for mental health,” shares Club Ability founder Juliette Bautista Barahona. “Mental health is a big issue currently for teenagers, so we listened to their ideas and helped expand them for this exercise so they could see the practical side of development.”
Bryan Palmer, Senior Software Engineer at Canary Speech, had the opportunity to attend the event. His role at the conference was to be a resource for the groups, so he was excited that the workshop focused on designing an application to help people with anxiety and depression. Canary Speech’s technology uses vocal biomarkers to test for stress, mood, and energy, as well as includes the standardized PHQ-9 and GAD-7 depression and anxiety tests in reporting.
“I was able to help the groups and share that we have a product at Canary that helps those with depression and anxiety. It was great to help the students think about how technology can make a difference, and they were able to integrate the ideas of Canary Speech, like listening to voice, taking samples, and getting results back, into their ideas.”
Bryan highly enjoyed the conference, “It was awesome to be a part of. This conference wasn’t just to demonstrate the possibilities of technology, but also to help find mentors for the attendees. The kids got really involved and excited and I was impressed with all of the ideas they came up with. I want my daughters to attend next time!”
Juliette also felt that the event was a success as the attendees were exposed to the options that a career in tech can give them.