“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.” – Elon Musk
Meet Monika Para! She’s been recognized by several organizations for her accomplishments, but she had a tough start in life. Learn more about this inspirational young woman!
🏆 2018 NCWIT Certificate of Distinction
🏆2018 Kode With Klossy Scholarship
🏆2019 Stanford University She++ #include Fellow
🏆2019 NCWIT Northern Illinois Winner
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
My name is Monica Para and I am a senior at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Illinois. Like any typical teenager, my hobbies consist of binge watching The Office, running, reading fan fiction and making memes. You’ll most likely spot me at the nearest Bobba Tea Shop (I have to spill some tea here – I LOVE bobba tea).
I am heavily involved in my school community which I am the Co-Founder for both Science National Honor Society and Girls Who Code, Secretary for a volunteering club, and a 2 year Track athlete while being selected as one of 20 students in my school to partake in my school district’s Principal and Superintendent Advisory Board serving as a voice for the students in my school district.
Outside of school, I’m a STEM-aficionado and enjoy spending time helping out promoting the importance of STEM education in the community while partaking in organizations such as NCWIT, Girls Who Code and Kode with Klossy!
Fun fact: I facetimed Karlie Kloss!
To further explore these passions, I take part in activities that piqué my interest. More specifically, I am passionate about the intersection of technology and social good. The fact that a screen can change the world is something that amazes me, which is something I’m inspired to do. Who would have thought that a single line of code can shape entities? My philosophy is that technology is shaping the future and I want to be a part of this worldwide change.
In addition, I am the founder and director of Explore Engineering which is a Chicago-based STEM conference aimed to introduce high school students to the field of engineering along the idea of empowering the next generation of leaders in STEM. I am partnering with various of nonprofits and companies across the nation like IBM, Argonne National Laboratory, Discover Technology and more! Feel free to check the event out at https://explore-engineering.netlify.com/.
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite websites, apps, or other tech tools?
Twitter – I would be lying if I told you that I’m not on here 24/7.
Quora – Just like Twitter, chances are you are going to find me roaming around this site. I love reading random questions as a pastime.
Khan Academy – I love how you can learn practically ANYTHING you want to on this site! Strongly recommend it for any AP prep or in general.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Someone who inspires me is my second oldest brother. In high school, he was a track star who was dominant in the 300m hurdles – breaking school records while taking his talents all the way to the national level which he competed and placed in the USATF Junior Olympics in Sacramento back in 2010. Despite not continuing his track career at the collegiate level, I was always in awe of his track accolades and wanted to follow his footsteps – not necessarily being a dominant hurdler, rather dominating the distance events. An ultimate goal of mine I made freshman year was to qualify for the elite USATF Track & Field series by the time I was a senior. However, this goal slowly vanished throughout high school due to suffering from lingering injuries from track as well as realizing that I wanted to pursue my other passions besides being a competitive runner.
Aside from his track accolades, he obtained a feat that very few students achieve – being accepted and attending one of the most prestigious Medical Schools in America. He has overcome several setbacks in life, but is a living example of what hard work means. The knowledge I imparted from him that always work hard to pursue your dreams, no matter how steep the hill is.
It’s crazy to think that if my brother never showed me Scratch that one day during the summer of my freshman year, I would have never heard of Girls Who Code or found my passion in providing opportunities for the disenfranchised while helping close the gender gap in STEM. Let alone, I wouldn’t be here today to tell my story.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
An adversity I have overcome was finding my voice. I was delayed in my speech which my doctors thought that I had autism whereas my family thought I was deaf- both of which were false. However, throughout the years I overcame this adversity through support and coming out of my “comfort zone.” If I never found my voice, I don’t know where I would be today.
An ideal job would being an entrepreneur in tech alongside running a successful tech company that will, one day, impact the lives of others. Although I don’t know what that “it” would be, I know for a fact that I want to combine entrepreneurship, innovation, and social impact in what I do.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Always recognize your self worth. There are only two milestones in your life – the day you were born and the day you realize who you are. Once you identify your self worth, you are an indestructible force. Just know that once you know what your passions are, work with them and soon your passions can make an impact to the lives of others. Passion fuels purpose.