Kenzie Academy students come from varied backgrounds and bring unique perspectives to their work in tech; they’re breaking barriers and making our industry a more diverse and inclusive one for all. That’s pretty badass in our book.
Last month, Kenzie student Jai Thurman crafted the Diversity Engineered Challenge to showcase this badassery. The social media challenge encourages conversations about diversity in tech and saw Kenzie Academy students, staff, and others participating by following and posting based on Jai’s challenge prompts for 30 days.
Jai is currently completing the UX Engineering program at Kenzie. She’s also an International Psychology graduate student at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. When writing up the challenge, Jai drew inspiration from the James Baldwin quote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
“I created the Diversity Engineered Challenge because I did not see enough of myself,” Jai said. “Not just as a woman but as a Black/Indigenous person represented in tech. I also did not see enough of my friends who are women, POC, or in the LGBTQ+ community. We are all underrepresented in this industry that affects everyone globally. Tech is now an essential part of our lives and it was time for a diverse representation of engineers to be seen, network, and stand out together!“
On her website, she writes of the challenge, “This challenge started in part by hearing so many negative responses to those that are still trying to break into this industry, I got tired of it. So, I decided to create something that will bring us together and encourage those who are on the daily fight with React and Ruby.”
Challenge prompts range from a simple introduction and explanation of why you’re interested in tech to more vulnerable prompts about imposter syndrome and perception of self. One prompt encourages participants to “shoot their shot” at their dream company by tagging them in their Diversity Engineered Challenge post.
For Jai, the challenge highlights the joys and trials that come with being a new engineer.
“Tech can be somewhat of a boys club or treated as this special toy that no one wants to share and as a new engineer, I just didn’t see the value in that,” Jai said. “Too often people become so protective of information that they neglect the fact that innovation comes with engaging with diverse perspectives that yield creative solutions to everyday problems. This is what Diversity Engineered was engineered to accomplish. A community for all engineers. Every experience level, every gender, every ethnicity, for every engineer.”
Though Jai and other Kenzie students and staff participated in the challenge throughout the month of June, it’s never too late to try it out. Interested in doing the challenge yourself? View the prompts and start your 30 days of posts here.
Check out a few Diversity Engineered quotes from Kenzie students below!
“My experience learning to become a Software Engineer with Kenzie has changed my life in the best way possible. Not having ever seen a Software Engineer that looks like me, I found that I am very capable of succeeding as a Software Engineer.” – Bethsheba Zebata, Software Engineering Student
“Software engineering produces so many solutions to issues in our world. We can build anything as a solution for problems, but it takes leaders from various backgrounds, cultures, and communities to really connect the dots and build something so powerful it leads a legacy into a revolution. This is what empowers me to be a part of this journey. Developing change in the world.” – Diarte Jeffcoat, Software Engineering Student
“In Software Engineering you never know what chapter someone is on so don’t compare their chapter 25 to your chapter 5.” – Nikal Morgan, Software Engineering Student & Student Coach
“My experience at Kenzie Academy has been a great motivator and push for getting closer to having a real career. Just last year I was working at two dead-end jobs and this year I’ve already received my front end certificate and am halfway to becoming a Software Developer. I only get better from here.” – Mavrick Watts, Software Engineering Student
Ready to jumpstart your career as a UX Designer or Coder? Learn more about Kenzie Academy’s 12-month Software Engineering and UX design programs, or check out our free beginner’s coding program Kenzie Free.