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What Does a Computer Scientist Look Like?

Career and Technical Education exposed me to the field of computing. I joined two organizations in high school that changed my life. My participation in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and ROCAME (Region O Council for the Advancement of Minorities in Engineering) allowed me to see what a Computer Scientist and Engineer "looked like." These organizations also groomed me for the experiences that followed during my years as an undergraduate Computer Science student in the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. It was all relevant.

We as adults base our decisions on statistics and track interest rates for credit cards, various loans of all types and follow the Stock Market closely. This type of data is important to society and allows us to make effective decisions. Is this type of data relevant to our students when determining course enrollment or college majors? No. Do we provide students with effective and relevant data that would assist them in deciding to pursue a career in the field of Computer Science? My prior students were concerned with the amount of money they could make upon graduation. Some students were concerned about whether or not people represented in certain careers aligned with their profile or if they were "cool." Did I mention they want to know how much money they are going to make?

When I toured companies as a high school student in ROCAME, I was convinced after my first onsite meeting. Why? The mentor assigned to our chapter discussed aspects of his job that seemed fun, he looked like me, I made a connection with his experiences and they aligned with my interests. He showed me what a person in his field looked like and made it relevant. We have a great responsibility to expose students to the field of Computer Science, be visible in their classrooms as well as during post school events.

I am currently employed in one of the largest districts in my state and there are less than ten Computer Science programs. How do we effectively integrate this field at every level in K-12 education and show students what a Computer Scientist looks like? How do we make it relevant?

The resource Pathways in Computer Science is posted on YouTube. It assists in marketing the field of Computer Science to students.

It's a start.

Shemeka D. Shufford
CSTA Board Member


I try to capture some of what you mention in my first day slides: https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dfcn7cdv_386dq3zm2c6

I particularly like sharing the collage of computer scientists: http://www.helenemartin.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/computer-scientists.png

I tell students about Elena who is a skydiving instructor (and Amazon engineer), Travis who won state with his football team in high school (and is getting a computer science PhD), Ben who recently spent six months learning Spanish and traveling around South America... and then I try to bring at least one of them in as a guest speaker during the year.

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