STEMinist Profile: Alyssa Diaz, Developer, Girl Develop It Columbus

Alyssa Diaz

Alyssa Diaz

Developer / Teacher / Teaching Assistant

Nationwide Insurance / Girl Develop It Columbus

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I’ve always loved math and science. It’s safe to say I even liked calculus and differential equations. Computer science wasn’t actually my first love, although I did play around with a Commodore 64 here and there when I was little. I think problem solving in general was my first love. I was always figuring out how to make things. I remember making pencil cases and hair scrunchies just by reverse engineering what I already had in hand. I could always break something down visually and recreate it. I consider myself a maker more than anything, really. It bleeds into everything I do.

I took chemistry in high school and thought that was something I could marry with my love of math. I went to school initially for Chemical Engineering at Purdue because it seemed the logical choice. After a while on co-op rotations, I realized it wasn’t for me. Luckily, I realized that and made the hard decision to change my major. It was between Math and Computer Science, and I’m really glad I made the choice that I did. I remembered my days playing around with my Commodore 64, and that sealed the deal. Programming suits me, the way my mind works, and my passions perfectly.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Anything Girl Develop It related. I absolutely love being involved with the GDI Columbus organization. I started out as a TA for our Newbie Programmer offering and have also been a Teacher for it. It’s empowering to impart your knowledge to others. The best part is seeing that light bulb moment in the students’ eyes. My favorite day this last session was when everyone was starting to ‘get it’ and didn’t want to leave because they were in the zone.

Role models/heroes:
My grandmother – I think she was the ultimate maker in my eyes. She could tailor fine shirts and crochet intricate doilies without patterns. She was an amazing woman who had flawless technique.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I really love getting to solve problems for people every day. I think overall, though, that I love the people that I get to meet as I tackle those problems. Birds of a feather, if you will. The sense of community that has formed in my extended work family and in the regional tech community makes me proud to be doing what I do.

Advice for future STEMinists?
If you are remotely interested in something, explore it fully. You never know; you might find your life’s passion. If you are unsure about the path that you stumble upon, seek out others who might be able to give you insight. I know I didn’t have anyone recognize that computer science might be a good fit for me or even offer that as a suggestion. Had I had that, I would have had a much different path.

Favorite website or app:
App: Flipboard – I am a news junkie, and I love the way this app presents it to me.
Website: Pinterest – I love its design; plus, I find lots of general awesomeness there.

Twitter: @alycit

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