Kaya is a full-time iOS engineer at Slack. She graduated in June 2017 from Dartmouth College with a degree in Computer Science. She started iOS development in 2014 and was a software engineering intern at Time Inc, Intuit and Apple. In the summer of 2014, she launched “We Read Too”, a book resource app that features titles written by authors of color. During the summer of 2015 and 2016, she was a CODE2040 Fellow. She also writes and has bylines in TechCrunch, Model View Culture, and Fusion. For her work, she has been awarded by various orgs: Glamour Magazine, Black Girls Rock!, and The Root.
Why did you get into STEM?
I’ve always been fascinated by technology even before I knew what computer science was. I’ve wanted to be an engineer since I was 12. I loved that technology allowed access to so much information. There are infinite possibilities with what you can learn and create. Those are the facets that drew me to STEM.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
My greatest achievement was having the honor of being awarded the Making A Difference award by First Lady Michelle Obama at the annual Black Girls Rock! award show in 2015.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
I think isolation and imposter syndrome are the hardest challenges I’ve faced so far. Sometimes it can feel very lonely when you’re one of few women on a team and the only woman of color. Imposter syndrome is also a constant battle, sometimes feeling like I am not good enough and soon everyone will figure that out and let me go. It sounds extreme, but I push past those feelings because I know I’ve earned my spot in my field.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
My advice to budding women in STEM is to never believe anyone who tells you that you don’t belong in STEM. You do belong. You have the capability to perform the tasks and learn the skills. Give yourself time to grow and learn, and don’t be discouraged by your frustrations.