My name is Sakinah Smith, and before I graduated SUNY Albany, I was a communications major/theatre minor, who had interests in computer science. Now I know you’re probably wondering how a communications/theatre student got to the Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing! Well, here’s briefly how it all happened …. I had taken a computer science honors course with Professor George Berg, who’s awesome by the way, and in this CS robotics course we used Python to learn how to manipulate robots. Now I was SUPER freaked when I began learning the material; I had NO idea what the heck I was doing! So like a crazy honors student I attended a bunch of Professor Berg’s office hours and wrote and read Python like crazy. So in the end, my robotics homework assignments turned into really cool programs. I made the robot calculate mathematical equations, I made it draw a house, and I even made it follow a hot chick around asking her for her number! (yeah that’s a whole other story) But low and behold, I ended up presenting one of my assignments to an annual robotics event. After that, I got an email from the Director of CCIWIT Jennifer Goodall, offering a spot to a trip to Tucson, Arizona at an Annual Computer Science Event for Women in Computing: The Grace Hopper Celebration! And the year after, I was invited again to the next GHC in Atlanta Georgia!
Let me tell you! The Grace Hopper conference really has made a huge impact on my perception of the corporate business world, and really has increased my drive to continue furthering my education no matter what. I’m actually back in Brooklyn, working and applying for my MFA (Masters in Fine Arts). I decided to further my studies in the Performing Arts field so I’m excited about that. But before Grace Hopper, I didn’t realize how many opportunities there were out there for all people of all types in any field. There were actually scholarships specifically for minority women in computing to attend the GHC! They had a whole dinner event there for minority women, I just thought that was incredible! And on top of that, every workshop, every company table, and every small encounter I had with ALL the women and young ladies at Grace Hopper had opened my eyes to how much I, as well as my peers, were missing out on. I mean, these older women, and younger women alike were all doing these amazing things, and they started out just like me; not quite sure exactly what to do or if they could do it, but willing to be brave to take a shot in the dark. And they made it! I realized how much I wasn’t doing and how much I could be doing. I realized how many great things I qualified for. I began researching much more, learning about myself and what I love to do, finding so many resources that were essential to my growth, and learning how I can take full advantage of those opportunities! I think a lot of students are closed off to their little world within their own majors and they don’t really get to see what amazing opportunities are out there waiting to be sought out. I definitely think that a lot more students would benefit from being a part of the conference, no matter what major/field of study they’re pursuing. I really hope that there’s enough funding for more and more students to participate each year, because, I kid you not, something as small as a trip to a conference for a few days with amazing people, can really change someone’s life forever.
So with that being said, I know I may have thanked Jen before, but I honestly don’t think I can thank her enough! I would like to thank you Jen and all those involved with CCIWIT again for giving me the opportunity of attending Grace Hopper both in Arizona and Georgia! I’ll never forget it!!
Sakinah Smith, Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication, Spring 2011. She currently resides in NYC continuing to pursue her acting career. You can contact Sakinah via email at SakinahSmith1@gmail.com