When I was selected to be a US Ambassador for the TechGirls program, I was so excited about the opportunity to learn about new fields within technology and share my expertise and experiences with other girls. I was first introduced to the world of STEM in 6th grade through my middle school robotics team. As one of the four girls on a team of thirty, I initially felt out of place. However, I soon grew to love robotics and computer science. In 2014, I co-founded Reaching Out With Robotics (ROWR—www.reachingoutwithrobotics.com.) ROWR is a volunteer STEM outreach organization in which high school mentors visit local libraries and middle schools to expose underrepresented groups in STEM (i.e. socioeconomically disadvantaged students, students with learning disabilities, young girls and students of color) to robotics. In the past five years, ROWR has expanded to seven chapters in California, from Marin County to San Jose to Santa Cruz. Over the past four years, ROWR has impacted over 4,000 students through weekly classes, monthly workshops, and STEM fairs. My organization has also partnered with the Marin County Office of Education, Girl Scouts of Northern California and the Boys & Girls Club of America. ROWR aims to increase technology literacy in low-income areas or among groups that traditionally have limited exposure to STEM.
Through the TechGirls experience, I was able to expand my knowledge of fields like cybersecurity and Java game development. Outside of the classroom, TechGirls opened my eyes to STEM education in other countries. Through talking and connecting with girls from countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, I was able to learn about the types of STEM activities and extracurriculars offered in their communities. Every girl had their own unique technology background and experiences. I plan to collaborate with TechGirls in Algeria in 2020 to expand my organization, Reaching Out With Robotics, in order to reach international demographics.