By : Yvonne Whitaker
June 26, 2018 08:00 AM
The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce has been revolutionizing every aspect of people’s lives and in turn, driving economic growth around the world. While STEM-related jobs are expected to continue on a strong growth trajectory, there are not always qualified candidates to fill them.
That’s where organizations like Women in Technology (WIT) play such a critical role by harnessing the untapped potential of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers.
NCR Foundation has partnered with WIT for the last three years in an effort to help the organization accomplish its ultimate mission—to inspire young girls and improve opportunities for women in the field.
Through an annual scholarship, NCR Foundation is helping young girls achieve their dreams—young girls like Samaria Driver. Samaria recently received the WIT Girls NCR Scholarship,
which she plans to use toward her education at Georgia State University, where she will begin her freshmen year this fall.
NCR recently sat down with Samaria to learn more about her passion for technology and her dreams for the future.
NCR: When did you first discover your passion for STEM?
Samaria: “It all started when I was about six or seven years old. I had always been curious and analytical about the world around me, so my parents decided to nurture this passion by enrolling me in various engineering camps each summer. These camps helped expose me to a variety of technical and engineering fields, so I could better learn what subjects piqued my interest the most.
As I grew up, I knew that I wanted to focus on Computer Science with an emphasis on software, since software tends to evolve at a quicker pace than hardware, which is exciting to me. But it wasn’t until I was about 15 years old that I truly understood what direction I wanted to go with my career. Through participating in the Girls Who Code organization, I saw a real opportunity for an area that needs more attention. We were fortunate to have a number of external technology leaders present to us on real-world technologies and innovations, and I discovered that the speakers would often gloss over cybersecurity issues. They seemed to be more focused on the innovation than protecting that innovation, and I see that as a tremendous opportunity.”
NCR: That’s great that you were able to nurture your passion from such a young age. What’s next for you as you continue your studies at Georgia State University?
Samaria: “I’m excited to attend GSU this fall. In fact, thanks to the generosity of the WIT Girls NCR Scholarship, I’m on track to be the first person in my family to graduate from college without any student loan debt! This will allow me to focus all of my efforts on studying Computer Science and Cybersecurity, and laying the foundation for an exciting career. Ultimately, I’d love to be able to open my own technology firm that focuses on giving back to the community to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM careers. By preparing more of the population for these types of careers, we are opening up the potential for even more ideas for innovations that could change our everyday lives.
I chose GSU because it really jumped out to me as a university where I could see myself flourish and, most importantly, its central location means potential internship and job opportunities at large, global companies will be right outside my door.”
NCR: It sounds like you have a strong plan for your time at GSU and beyond. What advice would you offer to other young girls who may be interested in STEM careers?
Samaria: “For me, it really boils down to two pieces of advice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you’ll learn and grow because of them; and pay it forward. If someone opens up a door for you, it’s your responsibility to open a door for someone else.”