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Brianna Fugate Continues to Forge a Trail of Greatness

November 2016

A Spelman computer science major falls in love with mentoring and blazes a trail of success in the tech industry. Here is her inspiring story in her own words:

Brianna Fugate Named University Innovation FellowMy journey into technology was completely fortuitous. On a whim, I volunteered with Black Girls Code this past March and that experience unlocked a passion that I didn't even know existed. BGC is a non-profit organization that teaches computer programming to girls 7-17 in underrepresented communities. Kimberly Bryant, founder and executive director of BGC, saw how significantly underrepresented minorities were in the field of technology and she had a vision to change the landscape. That vision led her to start BGC. 

I first served as a non-technical volunteer where I helped check in the participants for a "Build A Website In A Day" workshop and helped with their lunch and restroom breaks. In the afternoon, I sat in on the workshop and saw how the faces of these bright young girls lit up when they saw their creativity come to life. 

At that moment, my interest was piqued. Ms. Bryant inspired me to go from a non-technical volunteer to a mentor/technical volunteer and told me that I would learn a "TON." She was right. I served as a technical volunteer at two BGC youth-guided hackathons relating to teen domestic violence. The participants had to brainstorm and design a mobile application around the theme, "Love Is Respect." "Not only did I lead my team to second place in one of the competitions, I was also able to learn about mobile app development from an entrepreneurial framework of creating a product that we could utilize in the African-American community."

"For me, studying computer science is an equalizer that gives me the freedom and the flexibility to drive real change in the lives of others."

 After my volunteer experience with BGC, I was eager to soak up as much knowledge about coding and computer science. I actively sought out opportunities, one of which was a competitive summer program with Google. I was one of 30 students who spent three weeks in Mountain View, California in the immersive and interactive Computer Science Summer Institute. 

We learned new technologies such as Python and App Engine and created cool group projects to present before Google teams. In addition, I was able to see innovative projects like the Google Car and Google Glass. Being at Google was a rewarding experience and I was able to see how the skills I learned could be translated into a successful career.

While at Google, I applied for and won a Google Anita Borg Scholarship where I was able to attend the highly regarded Grace Hopper Celebration this past October. I was honored to be one of 8,000 women determined to break the glass ceiling in technology. Parenthetically, I will attend the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing through a Bloomberg, LP scholarship next February. 

Ms. Bryant  taught me that I can become a "builder of my own future through exposure to computer science and technology." For me, studying computer science is an equalizer that gives me the freedom and the flexibility to drive real change in the lives of others. 

I now see myself as a future tech leader and problem-solver who chooses to help girls and women of color flourish exponentially in the field of computer science. I am always grateful when my story resonates with a young girl considering tech, and I tell her how important it is to have a strong network of social encouragement. I look forward to being an inspiration to them the same way Ms. Bryant was to me.  

Learn more about Fugate's stellar experiences on Linkedin.

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