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Why Coding is My Chosen Form of Activism

The Scholarship Essay that Made a Teacher’s Tech Dreams Come True


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Terranie Clarke

3 years ago | 4 min read

I remember the first moment I felt it. A cool breeze brushed across my face, filling me with chills that stung like a hurled glass of ice water. Thousands of longing hands stretched out to me from barred windows above. The words plastered on our demonstration signs surrounded me at every turn.

“Keep Them Empty.”

“Stop the Violence.”

There I stood engulfed in that protest against mass incarceration in Atlanta, not realizing how pivotal that experience would be. The speaker soon approached the podium and told us that lawmakers utilized second grade literacy scores to determine prison populations of the future.

He went on to say that more funds were spent on each prisoner than each public school student on any given day. I recall glancing back up at those barred windows, realizing that many of those hands were brown like mine, and feeling a flame ignite within like never before. It wasn’t just the wind that impacted me that day — it was an unassailable charge. A charge to act. A charge to aid.

A charge to empower the disenfranchised and contribute to creating a more equitable world. And oddly enough, it is that charge, along with a culmination of my other experiences and professional aspirations that have led me to this program. I look forward to becoming a Flatiron graduate so that I can utilize my passion and education to become an agent of social change.

At first glance, I am not exactly what one may classify as the typical applicant for this program. I have worked in a variety of professional settings and held a number of professional roles in administrative, political, and educational sectors. And one might argue that at the surface level, my experiences have been completely unrelated to technology at its core.

Yet, I firmly assert that all of the reasons that make me a nontraditional candidate to this program are precisely the reasons that make me an ideal fit. Every experience that I have been afforded, both educationally and professionally, has been inextricably linked to the field of technology and they have sublimely merged to lead me here.

With an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Spanish and Speech-Language Pathology, I’ve developed a vested interest in the study of languages, and the opportunity to master those in the programming realm genuinely excites me.

Having interned and worked for startup organizations in Washington, D.C., Houston, and Chicago, I am also very attune to developing ideas from the ground-level and working collaboratively to transform them into reality.

In my most recent role as an ESL teacher with Teach for America, I also honed the ability to aggregate data for assessment purposes and facilitate experiences that best accommodate student/client needs. It is my unique perspective and analytical tenacity that make me aptly prepared for the technology field.

Although I have enjoyed each of my professional and academic experiences, I aspire to achieve so much more. I am applying to this program because a career in technology is the open door that I have been longing for. It is a sea of opportunity that makes it possible to create and attain unprecedented change.

Only this field offers the scope of practice that is problem-solving oriented and enables one to work in a variety of contexts and in diverse ways. Through this field, my love for languages, children, and social equity can be transformed into impact and there are no boundaries — physical or otherwise — simply unlimited outlook for large-scale change.

After graduating from Flatiron, I aspire to pursue a full-stack developer role for a startup organization that is igniting social change in global education and politics. With time and experience,

I plan to advance my passion further and lead a tech enterprise designed to influence the social, cultural, and political structures that preclude future generations from obtaining brighter, more promising futures. And the realization of that dream, begins here.

There are so many opportunities in the technology arena that excite me. I am inspired by the likes of innovative tech companies like Unchartered Power, Speech Blubs, Wonderschool, and Edlyft, who all utilize technology to solve social inequities across the globe. I, like them, plan to influence the field of technology in a transformational way, utilizing my passions and professional insights to advance causes that change lives.

Designing interactive virtual books that revitalize the excitement of reading for children so they can gain strength in one of the largest determinants of their future: literacy. Creating software and applications that appeal to the visual and auditory sensitivities of children on the Autism spectrum.

Providing coding resources and training to low-income children so they can gain exposure and have a fighting chance at competitive and fruitful careers in the future. These are the ideas that excite me and fuel my determination to master software development and make an impact that truly matters.

In the end, the Software Engineering Immersive program at Flatiron is the answer to my past and a stepping stone to my future. It is my gateway to paying homage to those incarcerated prisoners in Atlanta who were written off instead of being extended a helping hand. I believe the field of technology is the key to understanding, influencing, and ultimately dissolving unjust systems that impact the overall well-being of many.

My academic and professional experiences drew me here and my vision of bettering the world through problem-solving and communication affirm that this path is exactly where I belong. I believe that this program will foster my interests in technology and equip me with the finest resources and educational experience needed to advance in the field.

Our world needs more social leaders in tech who recognize the inequities around us and seek to impact them for the betterment of everyone — and I am committed to helping fulfill that need.

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