Fostering diversity in the tech field

Courtney Allen
October 08, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Three students in the College of Information Sciences recently attended the 2018 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference, where they gained inspiration to help advance diversity and inclusion initiatives within the college and in their future careers.

“My love of diversity and computing was what inspired me to attend, especially knowing all of the amazing people that I would meet,” said Adanna Nedd, a sophomore majoring in information sciences and technology. 

Held Sept. 19-22 in Orlando, Florida, the conference aims to foster and promote diversity in the technology industry. Named after mathematician and scientist Richard Tapia, the conference has been held annually since 2001, enabling students to come together to celebrate, connect, obtain advice and be inspired.

“It was truly exciting to see a space where the digital divide was actively being addressed and our students got to be a part of the solution,” said Jason Gines, director of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement in the College of IST. “The Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference lived up to my every expectation for collaborative excellence, enthusiasm for inclusion and diversity and the combination of educational institutions and industry coming together to bridge pervasive identity gaps in the world of technology.”

“One of the things that resonated the most with me is the fact that I was able to see so many other people of color, not only in my field but also who are having successful careers,” added Wendell Cupid, a senior majoring in information sciences and technology with a minor in security and risk analysis.

The conference consisted of keynote speeches by leaders in academia and industry, tech talks, panels and professional development workshops. Students were also encouraged to attend career and graduate school fairs, where they could network with companies and universities that they may consider after graduation.

“I expected a great deal of networking opportunities, in addition to meeting a multitude of new people,” said Nedd. “However I did not expect to see so many graduate schools along with corporate recruiters.”

Nedd said that through the conference, she was able to secure an interview with SAP Software Solutions and a future all-expense paid trip to the University of Kentucky to learn more about the school’s graduate programs.

“I believe this conference will help me greatly in the future due to the networking I was able to do and the new opportunities I was able to obtain,” she said.

Emma Dodoo, a junior majoring in security and risk analysis, was also thankful for the networking made possible at the conference. Dodoo caught the eye of several recruiters – including Google. She said that she was invited to a Google Reception where she networked with Google recruiters and discussed internship opportunities.

“Just [exchanging] contact info with so many people was exciting,” said Dodoo, “I was speaking to companies that don’t usually come to Penn State, and learning about different companies' perspectives expanded my horizon.”

Students in the College of IST have the opportunity to attend this annual celebration with support from the college’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement.

“Our office is committed to promoting inclusion and diversity within the college and at Penn State,” said Olivia Lewis, student advocacy specialist. “We offer a number of activities, resources and events to help enhance community and foster personal and professional growth in individuals within the College of IST.”

 “It is us, the students, that will better diversity,” concluded Dodoo.

Last Updated October 08, 2018