“We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.” -Antonio Damasio
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m 16 years old, and currently a rising senior at Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, CT. I am the founder of an international nonprofit called Leap Into Technology – or lit – (www.leapintotechnology.org), which aims to bridge the gender gap and to inspire girls around the world to immerse themselves in one of the largest fields of the era. I enjoy coding, and created my first website in 2nd grade, along with one of my friends. I also enjoy the physical aspect of computing, such as soldering and wiring robots. I have programmed and built my own robot to monitor levels of light, temperature, and carbon in a local lake, and have also performed data analysis research regarding the gender gap in technology.
Fun fact: I love finger painting!
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite website / app:
facebook.com! Despite being a massive outlet for people’s personal lives, Facebook is also a wonderful place to forge connections, network, and see what’s happening in the tech world on a second-by-second basis! By that same strain, LinkedIn is a great place to lurk and see what people are sharing on a professional level, and to look at people’s professional accomplishments.
Another great website for technology is codesters.org – they have great tutorials and they’re really entertaining.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My mother is my most obvious inspiration. She grew up in a conservative family in a conservative town in India. But she pushed for an education in computer science, and came to the United States to pursue her own career path. Now, she excels as a woman in technology. She taught me about the opportunity and promise that technology can provide, and I hope to impart that same knowledge to girls everywhere.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When I first set out on my mission to inspire girls to view technology as a serious career path for their futures, I faced a lot of roadblocks from my own high school. There were a lot of administrators who were concerned about the implications of my club, especially since it focused on women. When the push-back from my school made it apparent that they were not interested in supporting lit, I turned to my local library, and then used my experience there to open it up to people first in my county, then across the state, then across the world. I could have easily given up when I faced my initial failure, but my drive helped propel my mission forward.
At this point in my life, I love public speaking and I love STEM. Hopefully, when I enter the workforce I will have a position that allows me to both work with technical issues while also dealing with people on a regular basis.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Make sure you look for as many opportunities as possible – it doesn’t matter if it’s a long shot. Just attempting to apply for as many awards and positions as possible is an incredibly rewarding process.
Learn more about Omika! Check out her blog: www.omika.me