Ruby Kassala is a recipient of a Fellowship from the Marcy Migdal Fund for Educational Equality. The award supports exceptional students engaged in activities aimed at enhancing access to education for vulnerable students, either locally or throughout the world, and helping them succeed in their education. Click here to learn more about the Marcy Migdal Fund.
As a recent university graduate, I’m motivated by my ability to present opportunities and empowerment to students and young adults that are in the position that I was in during the past few years. The work that I put into starting the National Society of Black Engineers chapter at UW Bothell and the countless hours spent fundraising and organizing events made me feel like I left something at my campus that could act as a resource for future underrepresented students interested in stem; something that I wish I had as an undergraduate.
Post-graduation, my focus has been mentorship. I realized that if I want things to change, I have to start earlier in the pipeline. As a young black woman who studied Computer Science in a competitive program, I want other students of color, especially young women, to know that it is a possibility for them, too. Recently, I have acted as a panelist with UWB’s Association of Computing machinery as the only woman panelist, and am a part of more panel events starting this week with iUrbanTeen, an organization that is trying to bring STEM opportunities and inspiration to young students of color in urban areas. I have been meeting with students of color one-on-one as a mentor figure and have been also able to assist with funding for a student to attend the NSBE Regional Conference last fall, and assist with funding for two young students of color to attend STEM camps over the summer. After meeting with the students after the camp, I can see how exposure to the possibilities of an educational career in STEM and the knowledge that this is accessible to them has motivated them to want to excel in their math and science classes and do more self-study and projects. I have learned how impactful that something as simple as exposure to a subject, and the knowledge that it is possible for one to achieve anything with hard work, can be.
The scholarship has helped me to keep working at achieving my goal of providing a community of underrepresented students in STEM, allow a network for mentorship, and provide resources and motivation for students. My wish continues to be to increase the retention and admission rates for underrepresented students in STEM and allow them to continue that cycle. I have a passion for the work that I do as a software developer, but I have as much passion allowing other young Black girls like me to know that it is a possible career path for them too. I am thankful to have received this award and am looking forward to the results of the impact that it has made and will continue to make.