“Technology is for everyone” is a motto of the Information Technology Program at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. It is also the key impetus of two conferences that took place this fall: the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is the world’s largest celebration of women’s technologists, and the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, which prioritizes the role of diversity in the future STEM workforce. For the first time in its history, the ITP program awarded scholarships to eight students to attend these conferences, promoting networking, connection, mentorship, critical thinking and learning in key areas related to technology, diversity and strategic innovation.
The Grace Hopper Celebration took place in Orlando, Florida from October 1 – 4. ITP awarded scholarships to four USC students including: Paige Godvin, Yasmin Marquez, Alisha Nagarkar and Isabella Ortiz.
Said Marquez, who plans to work at PwC next year as a risk assurance associate: “I didn’t know what was possible for me outside of USC Marshall, or how I could leverage my minor and specialization at USC Viterbi to bridge the gap between business and technology. Being a first-generation college student, it was important for me to become familiar with opportunities I can seek, not only after graduation, but later in my career as well. Seeing other successful women in managerial and executive positions was inspiring.”
Ortiz, whose goal is to develop software to solve complex technical problems that have impact, was drawn to the presenters and recruiters at Grace Hopper. “The companies that recruit at GHC not only create incredible innovations, but also highly value women in tech. I learned that in spite of the intimidating lack of women in tech today, we’re moving in a positive direction. So many companies have begun to recognize the huge talent pool out there, but it’s also up to us women in tech to continue to fight against the injustices in career opportunities and the pay gap.”
The Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity was held in San Diego, CA from September 19-21 with the theme “Diversity: Building a Stronger Future.” ITP awarded four scholarships to USC students Evan Celaya, Randall Le, Hernan Soto and Sydney Turner.
Said Le: “I thought Tapia was a celebration of students from different racial backgrounds coming together to celebrate their interest and passion in the computing industry, but it brought together people from the LGBTQ+ groups and people with disabilities, as well. This is often overlooked in discussions of diversity.”
Attending these conferences allowed students to not only to connect with like-minded individuals and with industry mentors and professionals, but also to tap into communities of support. Said Marquez: “I took away that the future is ready for intersectional tech equity, and companies are taking action to make this possible. I now know that I can build a career in tech and be supported along the way.”
At the same time, the community represented has inspired students to pay it forward. “I’d love to share the experiences I’ve had with other young women and continue to foster a strong community of women in the workplace,” Ortiz said.