I grew up in Chesterfield, MI and attended the Macomb Mathematics, Science, and Technology Center (MMSTC) for the first half of every day of my high school. I then moved to Flint, MI to pursue my undergraduate degree at Kettering University. Throughout school I co-oped at an actuarial firm as a computer programmer, as well as one of the big three auto companies as a controls engineer, where I did my senior thesis on the optimization of tool life on an engine block line. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, and moved out to the West side of Michigan to work at an up-and-coming solar cell manufacturer as a systems engineer.
As I grew up, people started to notice I was very good at math and science, so naturally, I was encouraged to go into engineering - which I did and later left. I found the best part of my day as a controls engineer was not programming the machines or optimizing yield, but when I was able to take the production numbers from the database and make an interface or report, coding web apps rather than machines. At this point I knew transact SQL, basic front end development, and very elementary Windows and web application experience.
Once I made the jump over to web development, I really strengthened and amped up my front end skills and learned the back end technology necessary to be a competent full stack .NET web developer. I've always preferred front end development because I enjoy the visual aspects of it, but I've had my fun with back end code as well. The company I was at grew so large and so quickly that I found myself missing the small team size, not enjoying the back end work I had, and craving a more of an entrepreneurial environment, so I moved to a local start-up as a front end web developer. However, once I had our first child, I wanted to find a way to have a more flexible schedule so that I could spend more time with my family as well as get my own start-up off the ground, so I started freelancing. I love the freedom and accountability that comes with being my own boss. It's opened up so many more opportunities, and I've met so many amazing people. It's been quite a journey so far, and I look forward to what's coming up next.
Throughout my journey, I started dabbling in web design on the side. I have a passion for front end development, as well as design, so they work well together. It's very satisfying to be able to design AND code an interface that is functional, beautiful, and enjoyable to use. I've worked with designers who understand nothing about what it will take to implement their designs, and developers who fail to see why design is vital to the success of the project. Understand this and having skills in both areas makes me a force to be reckoned with in this industry.
People always talk about their right brain vs. left brain, but I think that's all a load of crap. Just because a person is logical doesn't mean that they won't be just as talented in something creative, and vice versa. It's important to be well rounded and to keep an open mind about peoples' skill sets and talents.
I am an instructor and advisory board member for BitCamp, an organization started by SoftwareGR to teach middle school girls to make websites and learn to code. Each girl leaves the class with a website made of HTML and CSS. We fill every seat most classes and have an ongoing waiting list.
I was one of two co-chapter leaders who got the Girl Develop It - Grand Rapids chapter up and running, and what a success it has been. The club offers classes, social events, and Meetups that help our members learn, network and share their skills and projects. Membership is open to all genders, but you must be 18+ years old to join.
I've written for Rapid Growth Media regarding my hopes for diversity in the West Michigan tech scene as well as been interviewed by other publications on the matter. Check out my portfolio page for where I've been featured in local publications.