October is Black History Month here in the UK and Ireland; a month where we celebrate and elevate Black history, people and culture. At TechTalent Academy, we celebrate diversity every day but to mark this important month, we asked our students to share the black role models who they wish they knew about growing up or those who have inspired them to choose a career in technology.
From famous figures to talented tutors, here are the black role models who have inspired the TTA students and why.
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE
Anne-Marie graduated with a Masters in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford aged 19 and is now well-known for founding the Stemettes with the aim of encouraging more women into STEM careers. Our student first stumbled upon Anne-Marie through the Women Tech Charge podcast and found her exciting approach to discussing women in tech refreshing. It was this that sparked her interest in technology, which led her to joining our Academy and pursuing a career in tech.
An American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist, Maya has been an inspiration to many. Having had a difficult life growing up, Angelou was mute for almost 5 years, however, didn’t allow these difficulties to stop her from becoming one of the most inspirational voices of the modern day. As a black woman herself, our student has always pushed to succeed in everything she does and says that Maya’s lessons will be ones she passes on to her daughter too.
A key role model for many women in technology, Katherine Johnson’s story inspired our own student to choose a career in tech. Johnson’s work during her time at NASA broke many boundaries in the early 19th century, particularly as a woman of colour. It was this, combined with Johnson’s contribution to the development of modern computer technology that inspires our student to achieve great things and to continue Katherine’s legacy.
A vital figure in Black history, Rosa Parks’ story is one that has inspired most of us. Parks stood up for what she believed in and fought against the racist restrictions that were in place during her time, and for our student, it is this bravery and courage that continues to inspire her today. It’s taught her to always stand up for what she believes in and to not be afraid or to give up without trying.
Mary Jackson is well-known for her career at NASA and later in life as a champion for equal opportunity. Jackson’s intelligence and resilience has inspired our student and is a woman who she says will stick in her mind forever. In recent months, our student has been educating her own daughter on Mary Jackson and her legacy, to ensure she knows not only of the ‘man on the moon’ but of the woman who helped make it happen.
Strong, bold, powerful, kind, and respectful – just a few of the adjectives that our students used to describe Queen Latifah. For our student, Queen Latifah is the inspiration behind her self-belief. She has inspired her to be proud of who she is and to be kind to others, support what she believes in and to voice what she does not. Despite not being a direct inspiration to her career in technology, the self-belief and confidence she’s developed from Queen Latifah fuelled her belief that she could achieve anything she wanted to.
However, it’s not only famous figures who have inspired our students. For some, their black role models were much closer to home but every bit as powerful.
With both brothers having achieved a MSc in Computer Studies, it’s no wonder that they are the inspiration behind our student’s passion for technology. Now, with both working at leading UK businesses, they continue to inspire our student by showing her that she can achieve what she sets out to do, even if all of the odds are not in her favour.
For one of our students, her role model was Tony Nwachukwu, her university lecturer. Having graduated with a BA in Music Production & Culture, Nwachukwu’s work helped our student incorporate more technology into her live performance. As well as lecturing at the University of East London, he is also the founder of CDR, a multi-platform music project which shares the process of music production.
Which black role models have inspired you? We’d love to hear from you. Connect with us on Twitter – @TechTalentAcad – to let us know.