Computer Science, Robotics, STEM

Daria Jordan: SpelBots at Ten Years – Stories of Young Black Women in Technology

spelbots 2012 cropped
The SpelBots in 2012 on Atlanta City Council’s SpelBots: Young African American Women in Computing and STEM Day. Front (l/r): Amelia Henderson, Daria Jordan, Tyler Davis. Back (l/r): Fallon Clark, Breoshshala Martin.

Doria JordanReflection by SpelBots Daria Jordan

As a sophomore at one of the top high schools in the nation, which specialized in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, it was no surprise to hear that at one of our speaker series events we would hear from a computer scientist and robotics guru. However, after the speaker was announced, Dr. Andrew B. Williams, I was shocked to see an African American male walk up as the speaker. My eyes began to light up as he announced that he was a professor at Spelman College and the coach of the SpelBots Robotics Team. Wanting to be apart of both of those great organizations ever since the eighth grade, it was truly a dream come true to hear from Dr. Williams. One of the key take aways from his speech was that African American women exists within the computer science and robotics fields and are even excelling in them. Despite having a robotics team at my high school, I never considered joining the team because I simply did not feel comfortable. However, the following year, we formed an all girls team and did exactly what we learned from his speech. As a senior in high school, I reached out to Dr. Williams to do research underneath him focused on using a humanoid robot to serve as a nutrition and exercise coach. Before even starting at Spelman, SpelBots meant the world for me.

SpelBots easily taught me how to properly conduct research, enhance my skills outside of the classroom, and manage my time. Within the first few weeks at Spelman, I traveled to Puerto Rico to present my research that won first place at the Spelman College Research Fair, which was when I was a senior in high school. During my freshman year of college I traveled again to Puerto Rico, then to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Ohio, while still performing well as a student. This was a phenomenal experience that allowed me to gain lots of knowledge and skills. I continued to travel with the SpelBots, conduct research, and mentor students throughout my tenure at Spelman College. Currently, working in the consulting field, these skills are crucial to my success. For example, I was required to participate in many engagements that required me to speak to large crowds on very technical information, which is the bulk of what I do now in my career.

Participating in the SpelBots program, along with meeting Dr. Williams, was one of the best and most influencing experiences in my life.

Note:  Daria graduated from Spelman College with a Computer Science degree in 2015 and is business technology analyst for Deloitte Consulting in Atlanta.  As a high school student, Daria was a National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Award winner.

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