Valencia CyberPatriot Teams were successful in the second round of competition in this globally recognized competition (Photo courtesy of Valencia CyberPatriot Team.)
Valencia High School

Opinion: My experience as a female STEM student

Ever since I was little, my family has always called me the “tech girl.” Whenever someone’s laptop was malfunctioning or when grandma needed help navigating on her smartphone, they would always ask me for help.

In my high school career, I have taken AP Computer Science Principles and I am currently taking AP Computer Science A. Computer Science class can sometimes be intimidating as there are only four other girls in my class, but I am overcoming this uneven distribution by providing leadership opportunities for females in my CyberPatriot team. 

As the Vice President of my school’s CyberPatriot team, I search for grants, opportunities, events and competitions that we can take advantage of.

As we prepare for the largest cybersecurity competition in the nation, I am responsible for leading our team of over 100 members to ensure that everyone is provided with the necessary resources and support to excel in the competitions.

The competition is centered around securing virtual networks on “images” that include Windows, Linux and Cisco. Whenever my team and I are practicing, it’s always a wonderful experience seeing how technology is limitless and there’s not just one way to solve a problem. 

Thinking outside of the box, putting my problem-solving skills to the test, and challenging myself each day to figure out the most efficient way to secure the networks is such a rewarding feeling. With increased limitless digitalization of information, there is a demand for cybersecurity professionals as companies choose to move their information into the cloud.

Though the stigma of females in STEM and lack of representation is discouraging, I’m still eager to learn to code each day. As reported by Cataylst.org, women earn a mere 18.7% of the Bachelor’s degrees in the United States for Computer and information sciences and support services as of 2015-2016 reports. 

I am overcoming this disparity through increased business acumen and technological experience. 

For my CyberPatriot team, I’m working to identify and promote scholarship opportunities for other girls to make this career accessible. I encourage girls on our team to try STEM by connecting them with online resources and communication platforms. 

I dream of becoming a Disney Imagineer in the future and empowering women with opportunities in technology and computing. Imagineers are responsible for designing all technological aspects of Disneyland while incorporating and bringing the stories to life. 

Seeing how Imagineers can spark creativity, bring families together and inspire storytelling through STEM, I instantly fell in love with this field.

I have also been working on creating a web application for my nonprofit organization Linens N Love. This web application puts my technological skills to the test as I work alongside web application designers to design a seamless, efficient and secure application that will allow us to connect volunteers nationally to further maximize our impact.

One global problem is the concerningly high amounts of waste in landfills. With my nonprofit organization Linens N Love, student volunteers collect to-be-discarded linens from hotels and donate them to shelters. In doing so, the waste going to landfills is significantly reduced as linens are donated to women’s shelters, teenage shelters and animal shelters.

Technology plays a major role in my nonprofit organization as we are designing a web application that connects volunteers with shelters and hotels across the nation. The app makes it possible for anyone to become involved with our mission. 

With the implementation of the web application, we will solve some of the global environmental problems as we spread the mission of my nonprofit organization with the power of technology.

As explained by Catalyst.org, women in the United States represent only one-fourth of computer and mathematical occupations and 16.2% of architecture and engineering occupations in 2017. The time is now to transform these statistics and overcome the stigmatism.

Anyone can pursue a career in STEM — it all begins with motivation and passion. I aspire to revolutionize the perceptions of females in technology by empowering females in my community as we encourage more females to pursue a career in STEM.