What does inspiration mean to you and how would you use your platform in your future career to inspire others?
“Hey, what’s his name?” I asked my sister as we were watching The Flash. In middle school, I was obsessed with superhero shows and movies. While starting the series, I was introduced to Cisco, a mechanical engineer and technologist at S.T.A.R Labs. “His name is Cisco,” my sister replied.
I admired the way Cisco used technology to create innovative gadgets for the team. Whether it was a particle accelerator or an interdimensional extrapolator, I watched in awe as Cisco constantly came up with such creative ideas. It was inspiring to see another person of color becoming successful in a field where it’s so hard for me to see myself represented. Growing up as an African-American, first-generation, and low-income student means that there will always be so many obstacles to my success. I almost never had the opportunity to see underrepresented minorities achieving success in STEM fields and it soon became debilitating to realize I would have to work twice as hard to be recognized for half as much.
Cisco’s determination to succeed and help others do so as well taught me the true definition of inspiration: to spark creativity and help light a fire in others to discover their best selves. Seeing him excel inspired me to learn how I can use computer science to contribute to the creation of technology used in hospitals. My ultimate goal is to become an innovative leader that creates solutions to help those in need while inspiring others to do the same as well. The experiences I had watching The Flash are what first made me passionate about the infinite possibilities and potential I would be able to unlock by helping others through technology. Whenever I turn on my television to watch Cisco pursue his dream, I remember just how much he has inspired me to become more dedicated to pursuing my own dream.
When I begin my career in medicine, I hope to act as a role model and leader for underrepresented groups that don’t often receive the resources and encouragement they need to flourish. I pride myself in making the most out of every opportunity that I am afforded and when given the chance, I will never disappoint. I aspire to be a part of the next generation of leaders and changemakers that will make a lasting impact on the world and I know that I will continue to be one of the reasons there is more diversity in technology and medicine. Thank you for considering me for the financial support I need to fulfill my calling.
What are you currently doing to inspire those around you?
I like to say my story starts from when I first discovered my interest in medical computing. Growing up, my family could never afford a computer, so when I was finally able to purchase one, I was extremely curious about what made them work and how I could use them to help others. I taught myself how to program and eventually enrolled at The Ohio State University as a member of The Academy program studying biology and computer science.
During the first lecture of my software engineering course, I noticed I was the only black girl in a class of 60. I felt out of place in a space where so many factors worked against my success. I used this experience in my first computer science course to motivate me to tackle one of the biggest problems in tech: lack of representation.
I strongly believe that diversity is what ultimately leads to innovation, so my biggest goal is to democratize the fields of technology and medicine so that more people of color and people of marginalized communities can have the chance to change the field of STEM for the better. Throughout my high school career, I have found numerous ways in which I can share my passion with others. Through federal funding from my city and financial support from national organizations, I created a curriculum with plans to collaborate with a local library in order to create a free program for underrepresented demographics in science. I taught engineering and programming fundamentals, culminating with a civic engagement project chosen by the group. Whether it’s creating an automated irrigation system for a local community garden, or even designing websites for local non-profits, I want to teach them that they can use their newly learned STEM superpowers to change the world. Just like I was inspired to use my skills in technology to pursue medicine and medical technology, I want to help others find their passions and apply them to real-life problems our world is facing.
Day by day, I have become more motivated in learning how I can use my skills to improve the world around me. The trials and tribulations I have faced in my life are what inspire me to continue tackling the pressing issues that face our world today. This scholarship will help me greatly on my road to uplifting others in the world of technology. My background has allowed me to experience firsthand that the strength of a community is defined not by the people who have the most, but by the people who have the least. Because of this understanding, I aspire to shape my future into one that serves and accommodates those who don’t have many opportunities to achieve. Through my efforts and support from scholarships like these, I can realize my dream of helping more people live out the best versions of themselves.
What you would do with the scholarship award if you were to receive it?
“Richael, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to,” my mother always used to tell me. Growing up in a low-income household in which my parents had little opportunity to pursue higher education, I found it hard to believe my mother’s encouragement when I grew up in a world where there were so factors working against me. However, with the financial support from the scholarship, I will have the means to work towards my goal of being the first in my family to graduate college and use my experiences to support others like me to attend college.