NATIONALITY: African American
EDUCATION: Software Engineer | Tufts University
When I was young, I learned the words to the song “This Land is Your Land,” right down to the final line: “This land was made for you and me.” When I was young, I believed those words. But in the years since, I’ve searched store after store for a make-up shade darker than “Chestnut” to no avail. I’ve seen people with physical handicaps struggle to enter an inaccessible building with no wheelchair ramp. I’ve witnessed the embarrassment in my grandfather’s eyes when, due to his arthritis, he struggles to open a jar. I’ve come to realize that this land was not necessarily made for you and me. This land was made for the racial majority, the mentally and physically able, and the young. Still, the needs of those in the margins do matter, and it is for this reason that I have dedicated my life to combining my passion for engineering with my passion for activism to make a difference.
After graduating from Tufts in 2013, I accepted an offer from the MITRE Corporation as a Human Factors Engineer. At MITRE I have worked on fascinating projects designing and developing software for both the military and government organizations. While I take pride in creating solutions that keep soldiers safe, at various points in my career at MITRE, my dream of founding my own company weighed on me.
I felt this longing the most, when I was on maternity leave after having my beautiful son, Pierce. Battling postpartum depression, there were days I struggled to get out of bed. The birth of my son made me question the direction of my life. Was I challenging myself to reach my full potential? Was I setting the example for him to follow his dreams? As a black female engineer, I had gotten used to being in rooms where no one else looked like me. I had even become accustomed to daily interactions with products that were not designed in an inclusive manner.
However, I was not satisfied with my complacency with these things. I realized that I had the power to increase diversity in STEM and even the power to change the way things are designed. It was then, during my maternity leave that I decided to push past my fears and the pressures of others to start my own company, IncluDe.
I founded IncluDe (which stands for Inclusive Design and Development) with the aim to provide technical expertise and services to those often ignored during the design process. With the support of my team, I have managed the design and development of software for countless minority owned businesses all while still working full-time at MITRE. The joy I get from using my technical skills to help businesses in my community is indescribable. I work every day to use my talents to promote technical excellence and inclusion. I believe this investment is vital to our progress as a nation, a nation that wishes to honestly say “this land is made for you and me.”