“Why I Chose a STEM Career Path?”

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“Why I Chose a STEM Career Path?” By Neylan Neal

My name in Neylan Neal and I am a sophomore at Rutgers University. Throughout my younger years, I aspired to be a psychologist, college gymnast, and a teacher. The thought of pursuing a career in STEM never crossed my mind until my sophomore year of high school. In my sophomore year of high school, I decided to take up robotics. I started out working with hardware. Using trial and error to construct a robot that would get the job done during competition. A year later, I transitioned into programming. Programming sparked interest in STEM and lead to me taking advantage of more opportunities.

In the middle of my senior year of high school, I attended a program introducing me to Information Technology at a big university in New York. The program was titled “IT Girl” where “IT” stood for Information Technology. IT Girl provided female high school seniors the opportunity to learn more about Information Technology as an area of study and career path. Although I learned a great deal about Information Technology, my takeaway was the field grossly lacked female representation. Even though women are making great strides and making their mark in the IT world, there is still so much room for us to be impactful. This program inspired me to pursue Information Technology as a major. During my first year at Rutgers University, I registered for courses like Introduction to Information Technology and Social Informatics. In addition I worked as a computer technician in the campus recreation center and secured a position as the Director of Technology of the Residence Hall Association. Thanks to the 100 Black Men of America scholarship, I was able to receive help financing my education.

All of these great learning experiences make me think about where I will be in the future. In five years, I see myself with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and enrolled in a graduate program for Public Health. I also see myself working with children in underserved areas to ensure they have the proper resources to succeed in the academic arena. The number of  people that I have to thank for the position I am currently in is endless. First and foremost, I want to thank my parents for working tirelessly to provide me with valuable academic and social opportunities. I also am appreciative of all of my teachers, coaches, and mentors for their reassurance and encouragement. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Wilson for allowing me to represent his program as a coding instructor this summer. Life is full of opportunities. You just have to be willing to take advantage of them.

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